Takes Vehicle Donations One Step Further

IAR members helped present a Charitable Chariots vehicle to a single mom at the 2014 IAR Summer Outing at Quandt Auto Salvage, Inc. in Carroll, Iowa.

It’s not every day that someone can see exactly where and how their charitable donations are spent. But that’s exactly what Iowa auto recyclers were able to experience at the 2014 Iowa Auto Recyclers (IAR) Summer Outing. A Charitable Chariots vehicle was presented to a deserving family at Quandt Auto Salvage, Inc., the Carroll, Iowa host facility, on June 14, 2014.

“A funny anecdote, the seatbelt broke at Quandt’s, so we invited the recipient family to have dinner with us while the Quandt crew changed it out so the car seats could be installed safely,” said Sue Schauls, IAR executive director.

Charitable Chariots is similar to the National Autobody Council’s Recycled Rides program, but with one major difference, it incorporates an educational element. Charitable Chariots is a SkillsUSA Community Service Project at Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC), located in Sheldon, Iowa, that utilizes service learning. The program examines the potential in a donated vehicle to return to the road Students from NCC’s Collision Repair & Refinishing, Diesel and Auto Service departments repair, service and clean the vehicle and ensure it will provide safe, reliable transportation with little to no maintenance needs for several years. Charitable Chariots was created by Steve Youngs, a collision instructor from NCC, in 2009.

“The instructors in the three programs wanted to stress to the students that they not only participate in community service, but community service in their given professions,” explained Youngs. “When our students graduate we want them to be well-rounded professionals and that includes giving back to their communities.”

There’s also an added benefit for Iowa auto recyclers, these students will have first-hand knowledge of the benefits of using recycled auto parts. That’s one of the reasons Schauls was happy to have IAR become a partner in the program.

“Obviously we feel it is important to help out the program because it is a worthy cause in and of itself,” she said. “But, we also like the aspect of showing community college students that used parts are a great option for repairs and that auto recycling is a valid career path.”

IAR officially got on board with Charitable Chariots in 2011 when Schauls read about Youngs’ program at the NCC booth at the 2011 Iowa Collision Repair Association event. Schauls and Youngs knew each other from way back when Schauls was as an employee of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at the University of Northern Iowa. In 2011 she was the brand new IAR executive director and volunteered IAR to help with the program.

IAR members donate $1,100 a year for general maintenance and tune-up parts. A list is passed to members and they ship the parts to Youngs directly.

“We budget $1,100 in the Summer Outing through a fundraiser, like the 2014 distillery tour at Templeton Rye,” she explained. “Swift's Trails End Auto Recycling once sent an engine, Pat's Auto Salvage sent parts for a ‘promo’ car project NCC is working on - a small Honda or Toyota that was donated but not suitable to give as a Chariot so students are ‘pimping it out’ with logos and such to use as a promo for the program. Waterloo Auto Parts, Inc. sent parts for the car given away in Carroll, Iowa too, Sandhill Auto Salvage and Spilman Auto Parts, Inc. donated cash to cover the expenses at the distillery and bus rides so that all the proceeds from the event went to Charitable Chariots.”

“Sue has been instrumental in working with us,” said Youngs. “We have a sponsor that provides each vehicle with a new battery and we have a sponsor that provides new tires when needed.

The vehicles come from random donations, mostly by the general public. Ten have been given away to needy families so far, but there have been as many as 12 on campus at once. Some vehicles are scrapped or sold if they do not meet the criteria as road worthy.

“Once a vehicle is ready we contact a social services agency in an area that we wish to give away the vehicle. The agency will select a candidate to receive the vehicle. We ask that the recipient demonstrate their desire to better their situation through some means measured by that agency; more-or-less working towards ownership. We then set up a presentation ceremony, invite a variety of individuals and then hand over keys to a needy family or individual.”

This was the case in June at Quandt Auto Salvage. The recyclers who donated for this cause were able to see how far their goodwill goes. They presented the vehicle in person to a single mother. Usually the family receives a $100 gas card to go along with the car.

“We forgot the $100 gas card at the Quandt presentation,” admitted Schauls. “So we passed the hat and ended up giving the new owner $380 in cash. She cried.”

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