MANKATO — Sandy Currin beamed as she slipped behind the wheel of her 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan.
That it has 129,000 miles on its odometer is of no matter to her. What matters is that the formerly vehicle-less mother of four now has a fully refurbished ride. And best of all, it’s free.
“This gives me more independence,” Currin said. “And no payments!”
Currin on Thursday was presented with the keys to the van at Jerry’s Body Shop in Mankato.
For the past four years Jerry’s has participated in a nationwide annual vehicle donation program called Recycled Rides, a National Auto Body Council effort providing dependable transportation to families in need.
Currin said she came to Mankato last year from Brooklyn Center, where she left an abusive relationship.
Her children range in age from 8 years to 7 months, and each day has been a costly and logistical challenge to get mom to and from work at EI Microcircuits and the kids to their daily destinations.
She said her transportation needs have involved VINE Faith in Action drivers and taxi services, and she couldn’t wait to drive her new ride home to surprise her children.
Under the Recycled Rides program, collision repair operators come across cars that are written off or totaled by either their owners or insurance companies.
Though Currin’s van had been deemed a total loss, $4,000-$5,000 worth of repairs has made it fully roadworthy again, Jerry’s co-owner Geralynn Kottschade said. Tire Associates of Mankato donated new tires.
Last year the auto body shop presented a similar van to a St. Peter working mother with three young children, whose 1991 vehicle was on its last gasps.
“These people just need that little extra boost to get over some of the things going on in their lives,” Kottschade said.
Vehicle recipients are chosen each year by Mankato-based Minnesota Valley Action Council and its transportation director Dan Jones, who heads a car-donation program providing transportation to struggling families.