Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2018 10:28 pm
HARLINGEN — Alma and Jurissa Gonzalez didn’t exactly know why they were invited to the ribbon cutting for The Collision Stop location in Harlingen on Saturday night.
They were picked up for the event, because they don’t have a car to get around. But that all changed at the ribbing cutting.
Earlier in the year Jurissa,14, had written a letter stating why her family needed a car.
She didn’t know who was going to read it, or even if she would win the contest seeking contestants to turn in a letter about them for a chance to win a car.
Jurissa was desperate.
And her wish was answered at the new Harlingen business ribbon cutting.
“ It was a heartfelt moment,” said Aaron Mendez, 42, The Collision Stop owner. “It got really emotional.”
The Gonzalez family won a 2006 champagne colored four-door Chevrolet Impala.
It was wrapped in white and had red bow.
Aaron said the family was asked to tear off the gift wrap to see their new car.
Aaron’s daughter had read Jurissa’s letter to the audience moments earlier.
He said the letter described their family’s struggle to find rides to doctor visits and the grocery store.
“ Hopefully them winning this car, they can regain some certainty in their lives,” Aaron said.
Aaron recalls the days growing up not having a family car to go buy ice cream much less go to the store.
He said his grandparents who raised him couldn’t afford a car, and he didn’t own a car until he was, 18.
He said as a business owner he feels compelled to help people who are less fortunate.
The Collision Stop and the Recycled Rides Program helped donate the car to the Gonzalez family.
The car was crashed and donated from an insurance company. And it was restored at the Collision Stop in La Feria.
“ I reached out to people I do business with on a daily basis to make this work,” Aaron said. “The car is like brand new.”
He said this is not the first time his business has offered a car to a family in need.
This year they partnered with the Harlingen Boys and Girls Club to help identify a family in need, but in the past they have worked with Ninos Inc. and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Jurissa’s letter was one of many turned in from the Boys and Girls Club asking for a car.
“ At some point someone helped me as a kid, and now I’m paying it forward,” Aaron said.