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Commentary: Tyler at Good News Garage

December 8, 2023

Donated cars are a game-changer for neighbors in need

Waterbury Roundabout | December 8, 2023 | By Tyler Sullivan

For 13 years, Shannon Bussiere of Waterbury would ride the bus for several hours a day traveling to and from work with her young son. This left little time in the day for anything else, and places that were not served by the bus line were largely unreachable.

I have met numerous moms like Shannon who are striving to move forward in their lives, but being held back by transportation barriers. 

With the average price of a new car now over $48,000, up $10,000 since 2020, the car market has become one of luxury. Rising prices have trickled down to the used car market, leaving many people struggling to afford even the most modest vehicles – anything that will pass a Vermont state inspection. This is especially troublesome in rural areas such as ours where personal vehicles are a necessity for daily life. Without reliable vehicles, families have difficulty obtaining steady employment, which affects nearly every other aspect of their lives, including childcare, healthcare, and housing.

When I met Shannon, her life was about to shift gears in a profound way. As the director of operations at Good News Garage, I had the pleasure of taking part in awarding her a fuel-efficient 2012 Toyota Prius. It is the first car she’s ever owned. “Thank you for changing the lives of my family,” Shannon wrote in a note upon receiving her new car. 

Shannon’s Prius was donated to Good News Garage with the goal of finding it a new home with a local, lower-income family. 

Good News Garage was founded in 1996 as one of the nation’s first charitable car donation programs. Since then, we have helped generous donors pass their keys to thousands of families, putting them on the road to self-sufficiency. In our 26 years of serving the community, we have not seen as urgent and widespread a need for vehicles as we have encountered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of Vermont families are currently stuck in place without transportation, hoping for a way forward. 

Good News Garage awards cars to Vermont residents through a partnership with the state’s Reach Up agency. Car recipients must be Reach Up participants to qualify for cars and are selected by the agency’s administration. Those interested in seeking assistance can find out more about Reach Up online here. 

Good News Garage accepts nearly all vehicles, as well as things like motorcycles, tractors, RVs, snowmobiles and boats. Cars and other donations that cannot be cost-effectively repaired and provided to neighbors in need are sold at auction and those sales help fund the organization’s charitable work. 

In exchange for their vehicle, car donors receive free towing and qualify for generous tax deductions from at least $500 and up to the car’s fair-market value. 

While our capacity to solve transportation challenges may be limited, every donated car makes a big difference – for the parent who drives it and for the children who ride in the back seats. During this time of unprecedented car prices and costs of living, I hope you will consider giving the gift of mobility and self-sufficiency to a neighbor in need. 

Let’s pass your keys.

Tyler Sullivan is director of operations at Good News Garage. Find more information on how to donate a vehicle online at GoodNewsGarage.org

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