Here’s a sweetheart of a story on Valentine’s Day.
Several local businesses and organizations teamed up to present a car to a single-parent family in need on Wednesday.
Manchester residents Rachel Dunn, 24, and her 3-year-old daughter Kiera accepted the keys to a restored 2003 Subaru Outback during a ceremony at Pete’s CARSTAR in South Windsor.
“It’s unbelievable,” Rachel Dunn said. “It’s going to make it so much easier to do stuff.”
Rachel tearfully and gratefully accepted the generous donation, saying that the car will make an enormous difference in her and Kiera’s lives.
Rachel and Kiera were selected by non-profit Covenant to Care for Children to receive the car based on need, the impact the car would have on the family’s life, Rachel’s clean driving record and her ability to pay for car insurance, according to CCC’s Executive Director Caryl Hallberg.
Indeed, for five or six days a week, Rachel Dunn commuted on two separate bus lines from her home in Manchester to her part-time job in Glastonbury. She said the total commute to and from work took four hours every day.
Now those 30 extra hours a week can be spent going back to school, spending time with Kiera or doing little things like going to the grocery store without having to ask to borrow a car.
Making the day seem even more special, Kiera's 4th birthday is this weekend, so she believed that the car was being given to her as an early present.
The day would not have been possible if representatives from Farmers Insurance Group hadn’t contacted Pete Gutska, owner of Pete’s CARSTAR, about an old Subaru that needed some work done on it.
“They asked me if they donated a damaged car, would we fix it,” Gutska said.
Pete’s CARSTAR employees, with the assistance of donated parts from LKQ Corp. in Manchester, got to work, fixing the trunk and bumper, as well as repainting the vehicle and paying for the emissions and registration.
Gutska’s motivation for helping out was simple.
“Things have been good for me and I like to give back to the community,” said Gutska, adding that he hopes this will become an annual event.
The South Windsor Police Department also chipped in, donating a car seat for Kiera to ride in. Sgt. Thomas Field was on hand to strap in the car seat for the inaugural trip on the road.
Sallie D’Attilio, Rachel’s parent involvement coordinator at Manchester Head Start, said that Rachel was a perfect selection for the car.
“She gives a lot and you just want to help her,” D’Attilio said.
Fighting back tears, Rachel had one last thing to say to the team of people who were responsible for making the day happen.
“From the bottom of my heart, the biggest thank you,” she said.