Local businesses put wheels on their donation to Food Lifeline

The reward of work took a new twist for Kevin Johnson as he helped repair a 1999 Ford Windstar van last week inside a Kent body shop along Pacific Highway South. Johnson, a technician at Precision Collision Auto Body, joined fellow employees and other businesses to repair the van as a donation to Food Lifeline, a nonprofit group based in Shoreline that distributes to food banks across Western Washington.

Collision technician Kevin Johnson works Nov. 4 on the van that will be donated to Food Lifeline at Precision Collision Auto Body.

Collision technician Kevin Johnson works Nov. 4 on the van that will be donated to Food Lifeline at Precision Collision Auto Body.

The reward of work took a new twist for Kevin Johnson as he helped repair a 1999 Ford Windstar van last week inside a Kent body shop along Pacific Highway South.

Johnson, a technician at Precision Collision Auto Body, joined fellow employees and other businesses to repair the van as a donation to Food Lifeline, a nonprofit group based in Shoreline that distributes to food banks across Western Washington.

“It’s nice to see our industry can give something back to the community,” said Johnson as he pointed out the dings and dents that needed to be fixed on the van. “We fix the car and are doing something to help out people in need. It makes a person feel good. Everybody in the shop put their efforts into it.”

Precision Collision, Progressive insurance, Keystone Auto Parts and PPG paints joined in the project to donate the van as part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program.

The Council will oversee the donation of 150 vehicles to charities and people in need across the nation. All of the donations are scheduled for Nov. 22, including the Ford Windstar to Food Lifeline in Shoreline.

“We’re really, really excited about it,” said Ashley Gammell, corporate relations manager for Food Lifeline. “We need a safer car. We’ve had our Jeep since when I was born.”

Food Lifeline employees will use the van to travel to their numerous meetings with food manufacturers and retailers that donate large amounts of food to the agency. Food Lifeline spends 96 percent of financial donations to feed the hungry with just 4 percent spent on administrative costs. The agency distributed more than 31 million pounds of food and groceries in 2009 that provided more than 24 million meals.

“This vehicle donation will help us to maintain this high level of efficiency because it removes the need for us to spend money procuring additional vehicles to support our programs and services,” Gammell said.

The van is worth an estimated $10,000, said Mark Lovell, marketing director for Precision Collision. The cost of repairs and parts to restore the vehicle are about $4,000.

Progressive had totaled the van and donated it to Precision Collision for repairs. Keystone Auto Parts supplied the parts and PPG provided the paint. Precision Collision and Progressive also will fill the van with donated food prior to delivery as well as put Food Lifeline logos on the side of the van.

“Our partnerships are very important,” Lovell said. “These are cars that otherwise would get junked and now they are back in the community.”

This marks the first year Precision Collison has participated in the program. Store representatives heard about the Recycled Rides program at a 2009 national trade show and decided to get involved.

“It’s our first program but we’ll do it for a long time,” Lovell said.

The company also will donate vehicles Nov. 22 in Wenatchee and Snohomish County.

The National Auto Body Council started the program five years ago when it gave away six cars to people who had lost their vehicles during Hurricane Katrina.

“Since then the concept has exploded,” Lovell said.

Lovell tracked down Food Lifeline as the charity to receive the restored van.

“Families will benefit from the vehicle because that entity touches so many people,” Lovell said.

For contact Precision Collision, go to www.precisioncollisionautobody.com.

To donate to Food Lifeline, go to www.foodlifeline.org.


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