ABC7 Salutes veterans group, car show donating vehicle to vet in need

REDLANDS, Calif. (KABC) -- The Volunteers for Veterans Foundation is hosting the 28th-annual Veterans Memorial Car Show on Oct. 14, where 600 classic cars will be on display.

But the car that will make the biggest difference in the life of a veteran isn't a classic, per se. It's a 2004 Ford Explorer that will soon belong to a veteran in need.

"(Charity Auto Donation) usually sells the car and donates part of the proceeds back to us," said Volunteers for Veterans board member Jim St. Pierre. "But what they did this time is donate the car, so we can give it back to a veteran."

St. Pierre said the board will decide which veteran will receive the car next week, and the announcement will be made during the car show. But the show itself will raise money for veterans in the Inland Empire.

"Last year we did well in excess of $100,000 for a one-day car show," said St. Pierre. "And all of that money is put into an account to directly help vets."

Jose Mendoza is a volunteer for the Volunteers for Veterans, but he's also a veteran who received help from the same organization years ago.

"I didn't know where else to turn," said Mendoza. "I was behind on rent, getting ready to lose my place. I had a wife and three children to take care of."

Mendoza said Volunteers for Veterans helped him with his rent and donated several gift cards so his family could get through the holidays.

"At that time, we didn't have an oven," said Mendoza. "So we purchased a small toaster oven, and we were able to have a thanksgiving dinner that year."

St. Pierre said it's a striking example of the help that Volunteers for Veterans gives the community.

"They gave everything they had to protect our freedoms," said St. Pierre. "So the little bit we do to make a difference in their lives is totally worth it."

The car show will be on Oct. 14 at Sylvan Park in Redlands. It runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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