WEST BOUNTIFUL - Most people take having a set of wheels for granted.
That’s not always the case. Or the vehicle isn’t the most reliable. To put it mildly.
That’s where Earl DeWaal’s Cars That Care Foundation comes in.
“We’ve given or repaired 100 cars for single mothers and needy families,” he said, adding that usually single mothers are helped.
“We have probably 30 or 40 applications that we can’t even begin to help,” DeWaal said. “Our resources are so limited. Almost every one of them would pass our criteria.”
That criteria centers on single mothers living in poverty who are trying their best to provide for themselves and their children. For those with a drug or criminal history problem, proof must be found they’re giving that lifestyle up, changing their lives, he said.
“This foundation is as much to help the children as the mothers,” DeWaal said. “It just breaks your heart to see these mothers do all they can, but their resources don’t even begin to cover their needs.”
There is no shortage of stories about those who have been helped.
Two weeks ago, a Chrysler Town & Country van was given to a mother with five children.
“The first thing she does is open the back door. Every single mother with four to six children who we’ve given a van to looks in there,” he said. “She looked back at me, her eyes full of tears. There’s a seat belt for every one of them,’” she said.
In one case, a woman had borrowed a car to get to DeWaal & Sons West Bountiful shop. Some of the kids had to sit on the floor, out of view, because the mother feared she’d be stopped by police for not having all the kids buckled in.
“Transportation is just unbelievably liberating to them,” DeWaal said. It can mean the difference between getting medication in the middle of the night when a child gets sick, or to the emergency room.
“Now I can actually go somewhere with my kids,” one mother said.
The vehicles given away have often been donated by generous south Davis residents or purchased with funds contributed by similarly caring folks.
The vehicles given away aren’t fancy or new. But DeWaal makes sure they are safe, and in good running order.
He doesn’t just hand the keys to the mothers. Before that, he takes them through what he says is responsible auto ownership practices: watching and checking that there is enough water, gas, air, oil for the car to run properly. That also means being sensitive to smells, such as those that may mean there’s a problem.
“The biggest problem with cars is that they are such an expensive commodity,” which includes being able to keep them operational to run properly on the road, DeWaal said.
He and his wife, Vickie, feel not only a passion but compassion when it comes to this charity and reaching out.
“This is something the Lord wants us to do, to take care of these people,” DeWaal said, comparing it to the care spoken of in the Bible for widows and others in need.
He can see the woman with her 9-year-old daughter whose ex-husband battered their old car with a baseball bat, while they sat huddled and scared, inside.
Or it’s helping the single mother who had bald tires and faulty breaks - but gave her “widow’s mite” to fix the problem. Then he did the rest.
To donate to this 501c3 foundation, call 801-294-4060 for free vehicle pickup, or visit www.carsthatcarefoundation.net.