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Echo Press Editorial: Car Care program fills vital need in Douglas County

Ninety two people in Douglas County who were living at the poverty level faced another big challenge last year when their vehicles broke down.

They weren’t just without transportation for their family. They also lost their ability to work. Fortunately, they were able to turn to the Douglas County Car Care Program for help.

More people should be aware of this program, what it does, how to get help, and how to support the effort.

It’s a faith-based non-profit group that helps those who face transportation barriers. It receives donated cars, repairs them and gives them to needy families. If a person already owns a vehicle but can’t afford to repair it, the DCCCP will fix it, using primarily volunteers, such as skilled mechanics and those working at automotive service centers.

Last year, those mechanics worked at 11 “Car Care Saturdays,” getting broken-down vehicles back on the road. Combined, they put in 1,344 volunteer hours and on average, their donated work amounted to $377 per vehicle.

Those volunteers are essential to the success of the program.

And so are the donations from sponsors, which ranged from those making contributions of $10,000 or more – Otto Bremer Foundation and the J.A. Wedum Foundation – to groups and individuals who pitched in $150 or more.

Last Thursday, the DCCCP celebrated its first year, a big success that exceeded organizers’ expectations and came in well under budget. They saluted the volunteers and financial contributors who helped the program make a big impact in Douglas County.

As mentioned at the top of this editorial, the program reached 92 people, and those people had 104 dependents, who also likely benefitted from having a reliable family vehicle.

Having a car allows children to participate in outside school activities; seniors to stay in their homes if they can drive; and parents to get their children to day care so they can work. With a reliable car, a parent can make doctor appointments, get groceries and care for the family. It offers the freedom for families to come and go without begging for assistance.

In short, it promotes self-esteem and independence.

The program served a wide range of people last year. The ages of the clients ranged from the 18 to 25 age bracket (eight people) to those 66 and older (four people). Of the 92 clients, 69 were women. Other demographics: 29 were disabled, 33 were coping with mental illness, six were veterans and all 92 were living at the poverty level. Most of them, 82, came from Alexandria but those in other towns in the county were also helped.

To find out more about the Douglas County Car Care Program, how you can help, or how to get help, call (320) 460-7911 or visit the website,

This is a vital program that needs to keep on rolling as long as the need is out there.