Automotive Oil Change Association and USA Delaware Donate Passenger Van to Deserving Serviceman
Our servicemen and women make countless sacrifices for their country, never asking for anything in return. They risk their lives so that we can have our freedom. Their courage and loyalty to the United States should be celebrated. Thanks to a handful of grateful citizens and veterans alike, one serviceman and his family were given a wonderful gift to show just how much they are appreciated.
Joan Cote, president of USO Delaware, had a bit of a predicament. She had a passenger van that USO Delaware wanted to donate to a deserving family. The van was in decent, working condition, but it needed a little more than a paint job.
Cote knew just the man to help her out. She contacted Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) board member Scotti Lee. Lee is a United States Air Force veteran who has also been a longstanding, active member of USO Delaware. With Lee’s extensive background in the automotive industry, he had no trouble corralling local businesses, and the local technical school, to help with the project.
Students from DelCastle Technical High School in Wilmington, Delaware, under the direction of their body shop instructors Tony Tiberi and John Collins, refurbished the passenger van.
The following businesses and individuals contributed parts, time, services, money or a combination of the four, to the project: Reese Hendrickson, owner of Meineke Car Care Centers in New Castle, Delaware; Andy Gilliland, regional manager of Valvoline Instant Oil Change in New Castle, Delaware; Henry and Bob Fenimore, owners of B&F Towing in New Castle, Delaware; Jim Pill, manager of Safelite Auto Glass in Wilmington, Delaware; and Bill Jewell, owner of MAACO Auto Painting in Newark, Delaware; Larry Read, president and chairman of the board of directors of North American Lubricants and founder of Oil Changers; and Pat Wirth, former AOCA president.
When the van was ready, USO Delaware needed to find the right veteran to receive the van. With the help of the Delaware National Guard and Reserve Emergency Assistance Fund, the deserving serviceman was found.
On Friday, December 20, 2013, Staff Sgt. Edward Gott, an Afghanistan veteran and Delaware National Guard soldier, was chosen to receive the refurbished van. Staff Sgt. Gott and his wife, Karrie, have three children, one of whom has a severe disability. The van came to them at the perfect time because the Gott’s vehicle had been totaled in an accident, and they were left without reliable transportation.
Not only was the Gott family blessed with the van donation, but to make things even merrier, they were also given a $500 gas card from John Scharp of Geico.
Cote was thrilled with the chance to give back to a deserving family.
“We are honored and humbled to be able to support a soldier and his family during the holiday season,” Cote said.
Lee was happy that the AOCA decided to participate in this cause.
“I was very proud that AOCA board of directors could step up and help this family in need,” Lee said.
In honor of his part in bringing the project for Staff Sgt. Scott to completion, Lee was presented with a commemorative challenge coin, an old military tradition, given and received quietly and without ceremony, as a token of appreciation for outstanding service to the military.
It truly was a community effort that brought the van to the Gotts.