An Ahwatukee Foothills couple was part of a team of Mesa businesses that made Christmas possible for a U.S. Army veteran and his three sons.
Abe Boyd has spent the last 14 years as an Army guardsman doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back home in Mesa, he's been driving his family around in a 1971 pickup truck with no air conditioning and no room for his three boys, ages 6, 12, and 15. So, Impact Auto Body and State Farm Insurance teamed up with businesses across the Valley to provide Boyd with a Christmas gift he could really use, a new car.
Debbie Schubert, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and owner of Impact Auto Body with her husband, Bob, said they've been helping to fix up and donate cars for years, but that this was the first year they were able to give to an actual soldier, rather than an organization that supports soldiers.
"He's the perfect person to give it," Debbie said. "The coolest part of is that the boys didn't know anything about it until they got here today. It was so cute. They were overwhelmed and so unsure what to do."
As part of the surprise, the Schuberts collected gifts from the community and filled the back of the car with Christmas presents for the boys.
"It's amazing," said Brendon Boyd, 12. "I'm very grateful for everything they've given to us and donated to us today. I walked in and my dad told us we were going to wrap presents to give to the needy, and we walked in and found out we're the needy. I was amazed. I can't stop smiling."
Abe Boyd also expressed his gratitude. During the presentation of the car on Wednesday, he told the audience he still wasn't sure he deserved it.
"This is a beautiful, wonderful present from all of you involved," Boyd said. "I don't even know how to thank you. Things have been tough the last couple of years and I really didn't know how to accept or understand what's going on today, but I really thank each and every one of you for giving your spare time and your free time, and even out of your own pockets, to make this happen for my family. It's going to make a huge difference in our lives, everything from safety to just everyday going to the grocery store."
The car was given as part of Recycled Rides, a program through the National Auto Body Counsel that takes slightly damaged cars from insurance companies and donates them to nonprofits to be fixed up. The car, a 2003 Toyota Sequoia, was provided by State Farm Insurance and was given to Boyd through the nonprofit Project we Remember.
Bob Schubert named a long list of businesses and churches that assisted with the project. Among them were Ahwatukee Curves and Mountain View Lutheran Church.
"I'm so overwhelmed with all the people who've helped," Debbie said. "The Curves on 40th Street collected tons of stuff for us. Mountain View Lutheran Church did the same thing. One lady at Mountain View bought some shirts for each of the boys and was just talking to a friend about it, and her friend just pulled out her checkbook and wrote a check for $50. It was unbelievable just the outpouring from people. A lot of people want to give, they just don't know who to give it to. They just want it to go to a legitimate person or organization."
Debbie said helping veterans and soldiers is their niche. With a son in the Navy, they've always chosen organizations that will benefit veterans or soldiers.
"We're a drop-off location for Cell Phones for Soldiers and Packages From Home," Debbie added. "They do so much for us. They just fight for all of us and all of our freedoms."
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