PINEVILLE – Employees at Caliber Collision-Pineville were treated to a Mexican-style buffet on June 7, but before sitting down for lunch, they wandered around a refurbished Toyota Camry to admire their work.
This was no ordinary job for Caliber Collision. Employees donated more than 100-man hours to improve the life of Melody Mganga by refurbishing a damaged car provided by State Farm Insurance to give to the Navy veteran.
Mganga, of Charlotte, had been without a car for several years and was using public transportation to get to her part-time job at Veterans Bridge Home. Sometimes, Mganga, who is the single primary caregiver to a daughter with sickle cell anemia, had to hail an Uber to get to work on time. Not having a car also hindered her from finding full-time employment to support her family.
But those days are over thanks to Caliber Collision and State Farm Insurance. As part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program, Caliber, State Farm and their industry partners provided Mganga a new set of wheels on June 7.
Although Mganga knew she would be getting her own car, she shed more than a few tears when those Caliber employees, who donated their time, pulled a cloth covering off the Camry. Mganga, who spent four years on active duty and two more years in the Navy reserves, has been without her own transportation for almost three years after her decades-old car bit the dust.
“It has been very difficult,” Mganga said. “One blessing is that I live near Uptown Charlotte and I can ride the buses. I work for Veterans Bridge and my office nominated me. This is a big day. My stomach is flipping. I am so grateful.”
Caliber vice president of operations Brandon Hawkins and Pineville State Farm Insurance agent Darin Morton presented Mganga with the keys to her new car. Hawkins said providing deserving people with a refurbished vehicle is one of the highlights of his job. Caliber is the largest independent collision repair company in the country with more than 570 locations in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
“We are very excited to give Melody a recycled ride because she served our country for many years,” Hawkins said. “She is a very deserving recipient. We think it was the right thing to do. This was a vehicle that was in State Farm’s possession and it had some damage before. It’s great to give back to the community and see the look on someone’s face when you can help them out.”
And Mganga got more than just the keys June 7. The trunk was full of donated household items she can use in her home.
“Caliber always takes into account the circumstances of the recipient,” said State Farm public relations specialist Kim Conyers. “They fill the trunk with things that will be of use to the family. If they have children, there will be toys. If there are pets, there will be supplies. In this case, [Mganga] just got some new housing and there are some very useful things that she needs.
Since its inception in 2007, the National Auto Body Council has refurbished and donated more than 1,000 vehicles. Caliber and its industry partners have teamed up to donate more than 200 vehicles valued at over $2.5 million.