ANDERSON — A new car might be on many people's wish lists this holiday season, but for a group of Anderson residents, all they wanted for Christmas was a safe car.
That's exactly what six families got Saturday at Mounds Mall. A group of six local automotive repair shops gave away a total tuneup for one family each. The program was aimed at providing free maintenance to people who normally couldn't afford repairs on their own.
At the old Sears store inside the mall, the car owners finally got to see their repaired cars for the first time.
"I'm overwhelmed," Patti Elliot said after seeing her car. "I drive my grandchildren a lot of places and I'm very grateful that it's safe now."
Elliot's car was repaired by Etherington's Automotive on Lynn Street. She said she got new brakes, a water pump, repairs to her windows and doors, and added many other small things.
"I didn't realize how bad of shape the car was in until he started looking at it," Elliot said.
Shanna Sears said she started crying when she heard she was going to have her car repaired for free. She said as a single mom, she doesn't have the money to pay for repairs. She said her two daughters keep her very busy running to basketball games and archery meets, and she needs a car she can rely on.
She now has that thanks to the repairs made to her van. She said her check engine and brake light were showing on the dash when she took the car in to Almack's All-Care Automotive. The wheel bearings needed to be replaced, and the suspension needed work as well.
In addition to the repairs, all the cars got a full tank of gas.
"It was on its last leg," she said. "And it hasn't had a full tank of gas in I don't know how long."
The six winning families were all picked up this morning in a limo provided by the repair shops and brought to the mall. There they were treated to a Winter Wonderland party, complete with carolers and Santa, before their cars were presented to them.
Mike Almack made the announcements of who the winners were and the people that helped fix the cars.
"These might not be the newest cars," he said. "But they will be the six safest cars on the roads today."
The auto care centers that took part were Almack's All-Care Automotive, Dave's Auto Service, Etherington's Automotive, Week's Automotive, Olive's Automotive and Nick and B's Auto Service.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.