Vermont charity, wrestling with industry challenges, gives away 5,500th donated car

September 9, 2021 Jack Thurston New England Cable News Reporter

A Vermont-based nonprofit that provides safe and reliable vehicles to people in need throughout Vermont and Massachusetts says it's facing new challenges created by global supply chain problems.

Good News Garage, which held a celebration in Burlington Thursday marking its 25th anniversary, is one of the nation's oldest charity car donation efforts aiming to lift recipients out of poverty.

The organization sees the global microchip shortage, which has carmakers downshifting production, as also impacting its charitable efforts.

Good News Garage explains the shortage, which NECN and NBC10 Boston reported on this summer , has people holding onto their cars longer, since new ones are harder to come by.

Additionally, used cars suddenly carry higher prices, so reliable and affordable transportation is now even farther out of reach for low-income people, GNG said.

The problem is especially acute for folks in areas not well served by public transportation, the charity explained.

Because of the tight market for cars, GNG said it is more thankful than ever for used vehicle donations. The organization cleans and repairs many cars it receives and gets them to families and individuals in need.

"I can attest to giving out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cars, and how much of a difference it has made in people's lives," said Wanda Robar, a program manager at Good News Garage.

Cars determined to be too costly to fix or ones with limited lives are sold, with funds going toward the repair of cars that are better fits for clients, according to the group's website.

Mercedeze Moore of Newport, Vermont received the charity’s 5,500th car during Thursday's anniversary celebration.

"I couldn't believe it at first," Moore said, adding that the gift will be transformative for her. "I can't even describe how excited and happy I am."

Moore, a mom of three, said she previously experienced homelessness.

Moore received a 2012 SUV, which was all spruced up for her, with still more life in it beyond its 131,000 miles.

"This is going to open up so many more opportunities for my family," Moore said, noting she usually has to walk her kids a mile or two to child care, then it's another half mile or so on foot to her job in foodservice. "Last night, I walked home in a thunder and lightning storm, so that was interesting."

Moore said it would be difficult for her to get a car loan, because she lives on such a tight budget.

Cash Cranson, the operations director at GNG, said the unpredictability of when the car industry will loosen up, so more people may feel freer to donate vehicles, is adding an additional layer of complexity to the situation.

"We're kind of bracing ourselves, and we're hoping that we start to see things lighten up as early as this holiday season, but we won't be surprised if it takes us all the way into next year," Cranson said.

Cranson added that auto dealers supportive of the group's mission have told him even they don't know quite when their inventory levels will be back to where they would like them.

Along with the challenges in the car market, other charities also accept vehicle donations — leading to competition for the vehicles, Cranson acknowledged.

Cranson said Good News Garage, which is part of the Ascentria Care Alliance — a large human services organization with members serving communities throughout New England — has been increasing its messaging about the need for car donations.

If you're interested in learning more about donating a car, visit this website or call 877.GIVE.AUTO.

Moore said she is confident her new wheels will help put her and her kids on the road to better financial self-sufficiency.

"I'm very, very thankful," the latest Good News Garage car recipient said.
Read More