On Saturday, March 18, Meineke Car Care Center owners Mark and Barbara Koloff joined Cars for Neighbors (CFN) to give away their 1,000th vehicle to a single mother of four from Blaine. To celebrate the 1,000th vehicle milestone, the vehicle was given away at Meineke in Ham Lake.
Cars for Neighbors helps community residents who can’t afford vehicle repairs get the transportation they need to work and take care of their families. The organization takes donated vehicles and works with Meineke centers in Columbia Heights and Ham Lake to provide donated or discounted repairs to ensure the car is safe and reliable on the road.
The recipient, Georgetta, lives in Blaine and needed a reliable vehicle to keep her job with the Minnesota Autism Center. She initially came to Cars for Neighbors for help with her car repair. After inspecting her vehicle, they deemed it unrepairable, but because Georgetta is working, she was able to get on the waiting list for a donated vehicle. Once the donated vehicle became available, Meineke donated more than $2,000 in labor to get the van ready for her, and replaced the transmission, front brakes, tie rods, timing belt, spark plugs and valve covers, changed the oil, and replaced the tires, side mirrors and tailgate.
“Because of supporting shops like Meineke, we can help families enjoy a new lease on life,” stated Jim Huff, Cars for Neighbors Executive Director. “Their kids go to school with your kids, they sit next to you at worship service, and they stand next to you in the checkout line at the store. This is not an obscure group somewhere, they are truly our neighbors.”
Meineke, through the partnership, has helped repair more 325 vehicles, some of which were then donated to families without vehicles. In addition, they repaired cars for people who may not have to means to keep their vehicle in safe conditions. They also cut their labor rate by 50 percent to repair cars that are approved by CFN for repair. Parts required for these cars are donated by local parts stores. In addition, they host a car clinic 10 times each year – with CFN volunteers have hosted more than 30 “Car Care Saturday’s” - where anywhere between six to 10 volunteers come into the shop to provide repairs and an average of two to four cars are then donated to those deserving residents of Anoka county.
“It makes you feel good to help people out…It’s about helping the community…It’s a very good relationship and we’re glad to be a part of it,” said Mark Koloff, owner of Meineke in Columbia Heights and Ham Lake. “And is it good for business? Absolutely! We want to be known as a generous company. I don’t think there’s any doubt of that.”