January 20, 2022

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Burlington mother gets new car as part of ‘Giving Tuesday’

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A Burlington mother finally got the new car she had been waiting for Tuesday.  

Chanelle Nichols, 33, was the recipient of a blue 2014 Ford Focus that was presented to her and Reece Ackerman, her 10-year-old son, at Deery Collision Center in Burlington.   

“I didn’t think it was real, because about two years ago I had filled out the application for this charity car,” Nichols told The Hawk Eye. “(I thought) ‘It would be awesome. I could use a new car. I can’t afford one, but I’ll put in for this and see what happens.'” 

The event and car donation was part of “Giving Tuesday,” in which GEICO, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Pep Boys, and 21 collision repair centers across the country, including Deery, partner to deliver vehicles to those in need of reliable transportation through the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program

Nichols’ new car was donated by Geico, with Deery providing repairs on previous rear-end damage and maintenance inspections on the car, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Pep Boys providing a gift card to help cover future maintenance costs. Representatives from all of the organizations were in attendance at the presentation.  

Nichols was recommended to apply to the car donation program by Burlington Building Bridges, a nonprofit community organization that provides training and workshops to help individuals experiencing poverty develop “skills, tools and concepts to build a brighter future,” as well as a mentoring program that allow graduates of the training to help support others going through the program.  

The program is one that greatly benefitted Nichols.  

Growing up, Nichols spent time in foster care and institutions. Seven years ago, she began working with Burlington Building Bridges to learn employable skills, seek job opportunities and find safe housing. She now works as a volunteer at Burlington Building Bridges helping others.     

Nichols credits her relationship with Mona Ash, director of programing of Burlington Building Bridges, for helping set her on the right path. She said she met Ash at age 12.  

“She was kind of my mama bear and got me (involved in Burlington Building Bridges),” Nichols said. “She knew, (me) being in foster care and not having my mom and really nobody but my foster family, I didn’t have that support of having anyone when I needed anything. Or holidays would come and it just sucked. 

“So, once I started with Bridges, it was just this family and they have been family,” she said. “If I’ve needed anything, if I needed somebody to talk to, they are there for me and it’s the been the biggest support system I’ve ever asked for.”     

Nichols said she learned five or six months ago that she was going to be getting her new car.  

“My car’s been hanging on by zip ties!” she joked about her 2007 Kia Amanti. “Just waiting for the next pothole to just throw them off!”   

Ash said Tuesday’s donation is the second car she’s been able to help give away. 

“She’s just overcome a whole lot,” Ash said of Nichols. “To see someone who’s worked so hard to build their life up, to get something like this … What it means for her family is security.  

“One of the No. 1 causes that keeps people in poverty is lack of transportation, and this is going to be the thing that really changes her life,” Ash said. “(Help) always make it to work and (help) her boy get to the things he needs to get to.”  

Nichols said she hasn’t decided what to do with the Kia, but says she’s hoping to either donate it or sell it, so she can have extra Christmas money for her son.    

The event organizers also made sure Reece didn’t walk away from the presentation empty-handed, surprising him with a gift basket full of toys, football gear and other swag. 

Nichols said she’s hoping to take the car on a vacation sometime in the near future now that she knows they can get to a destination and back safely. 

“I’m in love with it,” Nichols said of her new car. “It’s the prettiest blue. … I’ve never felt more blessed or thankful. And it couldn’t have been better timing. I just can’t believe these people put in so much time for me.”  

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