When Bill Todd was 12 years old, he was constantly around to help fix things in the auto parts store his father ran.
"People would bring in stuff and ask if he knew anyone that could fix a part they had. I was always tinkering with things so he would take it home and give it to me to fix," Todd said.
Laughing, he said that once the part was fixed his dad would give him $5, which went a long way for him. That's how he started working with cars and still does to this day in his own mechanic shop in Morro Bay, Todd's Garage.
Now, Todd is working to give back to people who can't afford to have or maintain a car of their own.
"To us, fixing cars in nothing, but to some people that don't have enough money, it's a huge ordeal," Todd said.
Todd and his son, Mike, who also works in the family business, started fixing up cars and giving them to deserving members of the community in 2014.
Todd recently teamed up with the Morro Bay Lions Club and the Morro Bay Community Resource Center to give away a car quarterly. Before the collaboration, Todd was working on cars and donating them out of pocket. The club provides the funds to purchase, repair, and inspect a car—Todd and his son take care of the maintenance.
Ray McKelvey, the club's secretary, became determined to work with Todd after he spoke so much about donating cars at the Lions Club meetings.
"When Bill would talk about what he and his son were doing, I kept thinking I would love for the club to help out in this donation process," McKelvey said.
The club doesn't donate just any car, though, they choose one that will have longevity for its new owner.
The most common cars that are donated are Toyota Camrys and Corollas. Both cars are easy to maintain and the least expensive to fix. The goal of the donation is to ensure that the recipient only has to worry about purchasing insurance and the license plate for the vehicle.
"We just give it a check over, check the tires, brakes, and condition of fluid. And if anything needs to be done we'll do that so they don't have to," Todd said.
After three years of fixing and donating cars, 15 people have been recipients of the donation. But it's just a start.
Todd said that he, along with the Lions Club, is thinking of purchasing a lot with the large inflow of cars donated to them. Most of the cars that are donated would be sold and the funds would then go toward purchasing cars for donation as well as food for the Monday Community Dinners at the Vets Hall in Morro Bay. The community dinners are a way to help feed those in need.
The Morro Bay Community Resource Center plays a big role in the donation process as well. Sharon O'Leary, who volunteers at the center, said they go over applications for the program to choose the best person for the donation.
In September, The Lions Club donated a car to Los Osos couple Rich and Elizabeth Carrol. McKelvey said that they were selected not only because of their need for transportation, but also because they continuously give back to their community. The couple is active in helping the Los Osos Community Resource Center, the Food Bank, and by providing blankets and tents to people who are homeless in the area.
"These are exactly the kind of folks we want to help. Folks who not only need help but are engaged in helping others," McKelvey said.
For more information about the program or how to donate a car, call O'Leary at the Morro Bay Community Resource Center 225-1991.
On Nov. 11, the Mission Animal Hospital will donate 100 percent of all adoption fees from the Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo for veterans and active military members. The hospital will also donate full examinations at no cost. For more information, visit missionanimalhospital.com or call 781-8888. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.