Operation Open Arms Gets New Wheels


From the News-Press, June 29-2011

Operation Open Arms received a new vehicle Wednesday to help transport troops to and from the airport.

“We wanted to donate the car and we’re trying to figure it out,” said the car’s owner.

She wanted the car to be used and not sold.

The AC needed to be fixed and the windows and interiors needed work too. Operation Open Arms went on Fox 4 and the support from the community piled in.

Cliff Gilman, manager at Leading Edge Auto Care took care of the AC and helped coordinate the auto work. The vehicle stayed at his shop. Gilman’s dad was a veteran so that was a major factor in his contribution.

“If it wasn’t for the veterans we wouldn’t be here doing what we do today,” said Gilman. James Szczep, owner of The Mobile Headliner Mad llc. also had similar ambitions.

“I just wanted to help out the troops,” said Szczep. “I gave him a break on parts and did the labor for free.”

Many other vendors contributed. Stealth Automotive cut a break with headlights and Collex Collision Experts helped with the bumpers.
“(It was) an amazing effort for everyone to put this together,” said Bunch.
The finished car was displayed at Geo’s Italian Restaurant on 1140 Ceitus Terrace in Cape Coral.

Geo’s hosted a fundraiser that night from 5 to 10 p.m. and 10% of the proceeds benefited OOA. Geo’s has been giving troops free meals with the program since it opened.

“(He) extends a lot of graciousness for police, fire and our troops,” said Bunch about owner George Lukas.

The car will be a great asset to the charity. The group has been spending around $150 for limo service to chauffeur the troops. Now that the car is ready they will not have to rent a limo for when they pick up a few soldiers.

 

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