East Brunswick company donates two cars to local families

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EAST BRUNSWICK – Doing twice the work to give double the wheels, Branning Collision Centers donated two refurbished cars to local families as part of the Recycled Rides program.

The collision repair company donated a 2015 Kia to Middlesex County resident Shaqwana Mcneill and her daughter Jaliya Mcneill, and also donated a 2015 Toyota to Monmouth County resident Cindy and her family on Oct. 12 during an unveiling ceremony at the company’s East Brunswick facility, located at 1120 Route 18 North.

Cindy is a domestic abuse survivor and resides in a safe house with her children. For the safety of her and her children, she chose not to use her real name.

Middlesex County-based FISH Hospitality Program (FHP) and Monmouth County-based 180 Turning Lives Around (180) selected the families, according to a prepared statement from Branning Collision Centers.

“I still cannot believe it. I am truly thankful and I just think that it is amazing what the company has done. All the distributors, all the sponsors, they have made this day wonderful for my daughter … especially everything that we have gone through and now knowing that we are going to have a car, we can be able to really move around when ver we please and just take care of more things, seeing more of my family more often,” Shaqwana Mcneill said.

“The whole process has been an amazing experience. We heard about the program two or three years ago. One of the families from our program got a car and we applied for this family this [year]. It’s going to be a relief for her and the kids, because she has four children,” said Lumi Espaillat, Cindy’s case worker at 180. “She walks to work at night, she has to spend her money on Uber, [and] taxis … so that is going to be a very good opportunity for her to build a better future. These events means giving them or putting them in the path of freedom, stability [and] independence and that is what the event is.”

The Recycled Rides program is run by the National Auto Body Council, and  aims to donate refurbished vehicles to local, economically disadvantaged families with the help of insurance companies and agencies, car rental companies, collision repair centers, parts vendors and others in the industry. Since its creation in 2007, the program has helped provide more than 1,000 vehicles to families in need, according to a prepared statement.

This year marks the first time the company donated multiple vehicles simultaneously and the fourth time in three years that Branning has participated in the Recycled Rides program, according to a prepared statement.

Brannings’ team donates hundreds of hours to restore the vehicles and works with its vendors and suppliers to obtain parts and other donations. These are the fourth and fifth vehicles Geico and Branning have restored for the program, according to a prepared statement.

“There is a great deal of work that goes into each of these events by our body techs and painters who repair the vehicles; our shop managers who oversee the repairs; our event planning team who handles donations, family wish lists, catering and shop preparations. Our entire Brannings team comes together for this amazing cause because of the joy it brings us to be involved with such amazing families and such a wonderful cause,” said Kim Branning, chief operating officer of Branning Collision Centers.

Expanding the scope, this year is the first time Branning partnered with two nonprofit organizations to identify candidates to receive the vehicles, according to a prepared statement.

“Each of our recipient families were chosen after submitting letters to either 180 Turning Lives Around or the FISH Hospitality Network which are then forwarded to Branning Collision Centers. After reading each letter, families are chosen to visit us at our Freehold location and sit down to speak with us. At these meetings, we get to know a bit about each family and their current life situation,” Branning said. “Our two families for the fourth Recycled Rides event stood out because of their motivation and strength to persevere during their difficult times and their determination to rise above. Both women have jobs, do not own a vehicle and will be attending school to help further them along their career paths.”

According to Branning, the company will continue to collaborate with National Auto Body Council and Recycled Rides for as long as they will allow the company to participate.

“Recycled Rides allows us to do something truly special for New Jersey families in need,” Theresa Neidich, executive director of FISH, said in a prepared statement. “We are looking forward to working with Branning, Geico and Recycled Rides again for a third consecutive year to give another family a fresh start and greater quality of life.”

For more information about the Recycled Rides program, visit www.nationalautobodycouncil.org/programs/recycled-rides/.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.