HAGERSTOWN — Two local residents have new wheels — thanks to local repair shops that gave away refurbished vehicles as contest prizes, in time for Christmas.
Michael Lindsay Jr. of Hagerstown and Beth Powell of Clear Spring were asked to be at Scott's Speed Shop in Hagerstown on Thursday, but weren't told exactly why.
Lindsay knew he was a finalist in the free vehicle contest. Powell thought she was competing to get a free car repair.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m., Scott Hoffman of Scott's Speed Shop announced the prizes — a 2000 Ford Focus for Lindsay, a 1999 Dodge Caravan for Powell.
The winners shook hands with representatives from the repair shops that banded together to give vehicles to people who needed them.
Starting before Thanksgiving, the shops accepted nominations. Hoffman said they received about 60.
Two finalists were chosen from each shop — one for each vehicle. An outside group picked the final two winners.
Powell was stunned.
She cried as she talked about the essential role her failing car plays in her daily life. She said she needs it to drive her father — who had his legs amputated because of diabetes — to doctor's appointments.
She takes her three children to Cub Scouts, Little League and the various other places they need to be.
Her stepfather and grandmother also have health problems and rely on her.
"We're just constantly in the car, going from one place to another," she said.
Powell said the timing belt on her late 1990s Nissan Sentra is failing, a rotor is cracked and the brakes are bad. The car has more than 200,000 miles on it.
"If the car broke down," she said, "I don't know who would even come get me on the side of the road."
Powell said she was grateful to Clear Spring Elementary School guidance counselor JoAnn Schiller, who nominated her.
Schiller also helped her family find a new place when they found out last month they had to move out of their longtime home, Powell said.
Lindsay's parents nominated him.
He said his 1987 Honda Accord broke down during the summer when he was picking up his son. He has shared his sister's car since then.
Lindsay went to Scott's Speed Shop on Thursday with his 10-year-old son, Michael; 14-year-old daughter, Renee; mother, Jamie Boback; sister Heather Hastings; and 3-year-old niece, Olivia Hastings.
Powell was joined by her stepfather, David Keller, and her three children — 9-year-old Kain, 5-year-old Sebastian and 2-year-old Lily.
Scott's Speed Shop is part of a NAPA business development group called "Auto Care Elite" along with five other local shops: Daymude's Auto Service in Hagerstown, Roy's Quality Car Care in Hagerstown, Davidson Auto Center in Hagerstown, Harshman Automotive in Smithsburg and B&B Automotive in Sharpsburg.
They put a new engine and new tires on the Focus. The Caravan got a new transmission, timing belt and water pump and a tuneup.
NAPA contributed auto parts toward the repairs.
Insurance agent Valen Meadows donated $250 toward the cost of insurance for each vehicle, and it didn't have to be through his agency.
Boback's voice cracked as she thanked the repair shops for helping her son.
"You don't know the hope that this gives us," she said.
She wished for "a sea of blessing into each one of your businesses, that God gives you what you've given away."
"I was overwhelmed," Lindsay said later. "Words really couldn't speak how I felt. It's gonna help me and my son a lot .... It's a great Christmas gift. I couldn't ask for much more."
"I never got a car for Christmas before," Powell said.