Veterans, single moms receive cars thanks to Recycled Rides Program

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The auto collision industry had its annual industry conference in Chicago Thursday, and some veterans and mothers received some much-needed transportation. (WLS)

The auto collision industry had its annual industry conference in Chicago Thursday, and some Chicago-area military veterans and single mothers received some much-needed transportation.

As part of the Recycled Rides Program, the women and men of the National Auto Body Council gave cars to recipients who found themselves down on their luck due to a job loss, skyrocketing rent, or an untimely death in the family.

Three-year U.S. Navy veteran Angela Walk unexpectedly lost her job after 14 years with her employer.

"People don't need a hand out, they need a hand up, and that's exactly what I needed, I am so grateful," said Walk.

Devin Evans, a single mother who served five years in the U.S. Army, said the gift gives her a new lease on life.

"Just to know that people care, I never met any of these people a day in my life, and they want to help someone...it is just amazing," said Evans.

Harriet Fomond, a single mother of three whose husband was killed in a robbery, thanked everyone who made the gift possible for her.

"I am ecstatic," said Fomond. "Just getting up in the morning getting to work on time, kids to childcare, no carrying grocery bags on the bus anymore."

Insurance companies, auto auctioneers, body shops and others handed over keys to cars deemed worth rehabbing because those corporate partners donated parts, labor and the cars themselves.

The council worked with Family Promise of the North Shore and Catholic Charities to select deserving recipients.

"The opportunity for us to give something back that was formerly useless, repair it and make somebody's life go forward is a great experience," said Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the National Auto Body Council.

Since 2005, the Auto Body Council has given away 2,000 cars, amounting to about $20 million worth of donations.

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