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Without a vehicle? This program may help

Last Friday, Douglas County Car Care Program board president Deb Herges (left) and board member Harold Koep (right) presented a 2001 Pontiac Montana to Angel Brooks of Alexandria and her youngest daughter, Layla, age 3. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

A new organization will help get people moving again.

Douglas County Car Care Program (DCCCP) is a faith-based nonprofit organization that's designed to provide vehicles and vehicle repair to low-income families.

On April 26, DCCCP gave away its first car.

Angel Brooks, a single mother from Alexandria, needed a car to get to work after a crash with a snowplow totaled her car on April 11. She went to the DCCCP office, filled out the paperwork and last Friday, she picked up a fixed-up 2001 Pontiac Montana.

After the official passing-of-the-keys and photos to commemorate the event, Angel and her youngest daughter, Layla, piled into the van.

Angel fired up the engine, smiled and said, "I love it."

Layla, 3, grabbed the stereo volume button and turned it up.

All who were gathered to witness the inaugural event grinned and laughed.

Angel told the Echo Press, "I'm really grateful to have this kind of help from the community."

Harold Koep, owner of Koep's Korner in Alexandria, is a member of the board of directors for DCCCP and he was there to witness the organization's first car giveaway last week.

He said, "It's great to see when these younger people have a need and we can help them."


Clifford Korkowski, an Alexandria native, returned to the area and has been working to establish DCCCP. He's the program's local coordinator.

"It's exciting to get the program to the level that we can give away a car," Korkowski said on Friday.

DCCCP is modeled after a similar program in Anoka County, called Free2B. Korkowski helped establish that one, too, and during his 10 years there they gave away 800 vehicles.

The program works with local churches and social services to get the name of those who are in need of vehicles. People can't apply directly but they can call DCCCP and someone will walk them through the process.

Eligibility guidelines and more information are available at


Now, DCCCP is turning to the community to start donating cars.

They don't have to be in good shape. In Anoka County, Korkowski said they received some cars that hadn't been running for years and "had trees growing out of them."

If the cars can be repaired relatively cheaply, they'll do that. Otherwise, they'll recycle the metal and put the proceeds into the program. Donations are tax-deductible.

The program will also offer "Car Care Saturdays." Volunteers will evaluate a car's repair needs, and if it's not a major problem (the limit is $300) they'll fix it at no charge. Typical repairs are rack and pinion, brakes, tires, front-end work, tie rods, ball bearings, etc.

Mechanics volunteer their time on Car Care Saturdays.

The first Car Care Saturday is set for the morning of May 18 at Koep's Korner, 204 6th Avenue East, Alexandria.

If you have a vehicle to donate or want to volunteer your auto repair talents, call Clifford Korkowski at (320) 460-7911 or e-mail


To kick-start DCCCP locally, several businesses and organizations are offering their support and services.

The Otto Bremer Foundation, owner and partner of Bremer Bank of Alexandria, donated $75,000 to the program.

The vehicle donated to Angel Brooks was originally used by Alexandria Opportunities Center, which donated the van. Ryan Donovan of Bremer Insurance Agency in Alexandria heard that the DCCCP program was getting started and suggested the donation. Koep's Korner employees evaluated the van and determined it was worth repairing and agreed to do the work. Auto Value Parts of Alexandria sold the parts to DCCCP for just 10 percent above cost. Alexandria Motors agreed to detail the van and have it ready for Angel and her daughters.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133