Car DONATION Programs Assisting LOW-INCOME Families in Need
While 2015 signals a more promising financial future, many individuals and families will find it difficult to climb out of the United States’ continuing economic turmoil. In particular, low-income families with few resources are in danger of indefinite financial struggles. Many parents give up on entering the workforce, and resources become even more difficult to find. However, car donation programs like Vehicles for Change recognize the need for tangible resources like cars and are there to meet this need.
Why Use Car Donation Programs?
Car donation programs like Vehicles for Change have several advantages over traditional routes to obtaining vehicles. When compared and contrasted to purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealership, it quickly becomes apparent that Vehicles for Change offers significantly more value. Used car dealerships may offer seemingly low prices, but they are often backed by high-interest loans, questionable vehicle history reports, and non-existent guarantees. Even worse, used car dealerships sometimes attempt to cover up vehicle defects, issues, and repairs.
In contrast, programs like Vehicles for Change provide cars at low prices – backed by honest and trustworthy deals. Qualified applicants are guaranteed low-interest loans and below-market prices. Minor and moderate car repairs are made on-site, and no family is ever sold a car in need of major repairs. The car is not a loan; it is a donation the family can keep.
Who Vehicles for Change Serves
Since 1999, Vehicles for Change has provided vehicles for those in need. Since that time, the organization has served more than 20,000 individuals. In the past few years alone, more than 5,000 low-income families facing a myriad of hardships including disability, job loss, prison sentences, drug and alcohol abuse, and other related issues have received vehicles. In many cases, several families all share a single home – which only increases the need for reliable transportation.
Types of VFC Vehicles
Because families’ needs are so diverse, the Vehicles for Change car donation program is committed to finding the right vehicle for each family seeking donations. For example, a single mother with a sick child is not going to need an SUV. However, with frequent doctor’s visits, she needs a car that gets good mileage.
In contrast, a construction worker may need a truck to haul equipment and transport supplies. Instead of driving a restricting compact car, he needs a heavy-duty truck. Vehicles for Change can supply this as well. They typically receive a fair number of trucks each year.In addition, Vehicles for Change accepts donations of former public vehicles (such as school buses). Vehicles for Change is committed to ongoing education and continued public sector growth.
How VFC Recipients Benefit
Unless you have firsthand experience with not owning a reliable vehicle for an extended amount of time, it’s impossible to completely understand the effects and consequences. For many, a lack of car ownership prohibits them from obtaining a job – which only perpetuates the cycle of financial struggles.
Take Sam’s story as an example. Sam is a middle-aged man with a wife and two children. He has a respectable degree from a local community college and has held multiple jobs in the past. While he has never made exceptional money, he’s always had enough to support his family. Last year, he fell on hard times and was forced to sell his car to continue paying for other necessities.
As a result of not owning a car, Sam was consistently late to work. His employer finally fired him. Unable to make job interviews and provide his own means of reliable transportation, Sam hasn’t been able to secure another job. Over the past few months, bills have piled up; the kids are missing out on extracurricular activities, and the future is beginning to look bleak. A job offer may provide much needed hope, but Sam may be unable to accept it due to lack of transportation.
Sam’s story is a typical example of the type of individual and family car donation programs help. With a vehicle donation, Sam can accept a job offer and will regain a solid financial foundation for himself, his children, and his wife.
How Children Benefit
As mentioned in Sam’s story, children are also positively affected by car donation programs. When a family is restricted by a lack of car ownership, children often receive the worst end of things. Because they aren’t able to go places without parental supervision, they are usually forced to stay home and forgo opportunities for self-improvement, exercise, and socialization. When a family is able to secure a vehicle, everything changes. Parents can sign their kids up for sports teams, music lessons, art classes, and other activities children should have a chance to do.
How Caretakers Benefit
In low-income families, it’s quite common for multiple generations to live under the same roof. While having a close family is great, it often requires certain individuals to become caretakers for elderly parents or grandparents. Without a vehicle, being a caretaker is exponentially more difficult. Even simple things like picking up a prescription from the drug store or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment become complicated. With a vehicle, caretakers can more easily provide care for their dependent without being forced to schedule the entire day around a minor event.
Benefits for Special Needs Families
The number of American citizens with special needs and disabilities increases every day. Autism alone increased from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 88 children in the past fourteen years. These children and young adults have their own set of needs that a vehicle can help meet. For example, a reliable vehicle makes a huge difference when commuting to out-of-town therapy or specialist appointments.
In addition, many families don’t live in areas with inclusive recreational activities. If they do, their loved ones’ choices may be limited if they have a disability. Again, consistent transportation makes a huge difference in allowing disabled loved ones to experience true leisure time with friends and increase their quality of life.
Car Ownership Decreases Isolation
Lack of a steady job or income is an isolating and lonely experience. Being labeled as a “low-income family” decreases self-esteem and the drive to improve the family’s financial situation. Children and adults alike eschew discussing their economic issues, closing themselves off further from those who want to help. Owning a car decreases the pain of isolation by providing new outlets and opportunities to reverse the desperate cycle of loneliness and inaccessibility.
The Vision of VFC
Car donation programs like Vehicles for Change are built on strong principles, goals, and values. The specific core values of Vehicles for Change are Integrity, Mission Driven, Family, Pride, Positively Outrageous Service, Innovation, and the “Me.”
Vehicles for Change, much like other car donation programs spread throughout the country, is centered on honesty and trustworthiness. Without a foundation of integrity, an initiative that asks people to donate valuable assets would not work. Additionally, car donation programs are committed to a very specific mission that involves helping people in a time of need.
Vehicles for Change is proud to operate with family ideals, pride, and service in mind. They understand that every group, donor, and applicant they come in contact with deserves to be treated with respect and honor. Every team member is asked to provide “positively outrageous service” for every individual and group he or she comes in contact with.
How VCF Works
Not all car donation programs are the same. While most are backed by solid principles and an ethical mission, there is a stark difference in execution. At Vehicles for Change, staff members take as much pride in execution as they do in the overall mission. Since its inception in 1999, the program has existed for the sole purpose of helping low-income families secure their own reliable transportation at below-market prices. To date, it has done an exceptionally good job of making this happen. Unlike many car donation organizations, Vehicles for Change asks applicants to apply for the program.
Applicants must have a valid driver’s license in the state they reside, a verifiable full-time job offer (or already be working a minimum of 30 hours per week), must be insurable without any criminal history or DWI/DUIs, must not own another vehicle, must be drug free, and must be able to pay for tags, taxes, and title on their own. Additionally, if the applicant is under 25, he or she must have children to qualify. Recipients are also asked to ensure they can afford ongoing costs (fuel, insurance, minor repairs, etc.)
The program is the main initiative for Vehicles for Change. This program awards vehicles to low-income families that are part of a job-readiness or social-service agency in the area. Applicants must get their assistance program to file an application on their behalf and are required to meet a minimum income level. If successfully awarded a vehicle, the car will cost around $750 and comes with guaranteed low-interest loan.
How to Donate
If you are interested in getting involved with car donation programs, consider contacting Vehicles for Change or visiting the website www.vehiclesforchange.org today. Donors can take advantage of the easy three-step donation process online or submit a print form. The three-step process involves completing the form, scheduling a pick-up, and meeting the tow truck (although donors do not have to be present at time of pick-up).
Vehicles for Change prefers vehicles with minor to no damage, but will accept any vehicle. If the vehicle requires significant repairs, Vehicles for Change may repair and sell it to a private dealer. In these situations, proceeds are used to repair other vehicles that will be assigned to a family in need.