LA FERIA — When Federico Martinez showed up to a Memorial Day event Friday morning, he didn’t realize it was being held for him; in the end, he was surrounded by family and friends congratulating him on his new car.
Martinez, a veteran of the Korean War and the Cold War, was surprised with a refurbished 2008 Nissan Rogue as part of the Recycled Rides Program.
The program is a nationwide collaboration between insurance companies, collision repair shops, paint suppliers and parts vendors that work together to donate a vehicle to a family in need.
“It’s unexpected,” Martinez said. “There are a lot of people worse off than I am.”
Martinez, of Elsa, was chosen because his car broke down and has had to use borrow his daughter’s car to drive his wife, who suffered an aneurism, to see the doctor.
The vehicle that was given to Martinez was donated by Allstate. The car had extensive hail damage but was otherwise in good condition.
Mid Valley Collision Stop worked for about a year on repairing the vehicle which came to about $7,000 worth of repairs, labor, paint and parts, according to owner Aaron D. Mendez Jr.
“This is just our way of giving back,” Mendez said. “This is something that’s very near and dear to my heart because growing up I didn’t have a vehicle. … It’s very hard to not have a vehicle, a lot of struggle.”
Collision Stop has participated in the program for about five years, each year gifting a car to a family in dire need. This year they decided to go with a veteran.
They worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars who were tasked with selecting the recipient.
Lupita Perez, post commander with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Elsa, said they solicited nominations from 93 different entities and they themselves nominated one person.
“I went ahead and nominated him because he is so active with our honor guard,” she said. “I can’t think of a more deserving person.”