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The gift that keeps on giving: BIGT coordinator receives car to carry on good deeds

July 14, 2017 - 8:14am

WAIMEA — The Big Island Giving Tree (BIGT) and Auto Body Hawaii have worked hand-in-hand in the past, providing used cars to families in need at no cost. This week, “give and ye shall receive” came true when least expected.

Rhonda Bell, BIGT’s co-coordinator, spends many hours each week picking up donated food, toiletries, clothing and other miscellaneous items and delivering them door-to-door to families and kupuna. Since starting the nonprofit organization in 2006, she has used her personal family cars to drive thousands of miles around the island.

On Monday, Bell was gifted with a 2003 Ford Explorer.

Auto Body Hawaii was the connector and facilitator after the Feltes family came to them several months ago wanting to donate their vehicle to a worthy cause. Auto Body initially reached o ut to Bell thinking she could help them find a family, but the more they spoke it was clear that her organization needed assistance helping all of the Big Island families they serve.

After several repairs and a new set of tires, courtesy of Josh Porter at Lex Brodie’s Waimea, the car was ready to roll.

“I am so grateful and blessed that BIGT has been gifted this vehicle,” Bell said. “We have been running both of our personal vehicles into the ground with deliveries for so long. The main reason we are excited is we are doing more deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to our kupuna. In the summer heat, a lot gets ruined before we can deliver them when they are transported in the back of our truck. This SUV will shield them from the heat.”

Auto Body Hawaii got the idea to gift BIGT after seeing a Facebook post.

“The Felte ohana came to us with their 2003 Ford Explorer, XLT. It was a clean and well cared for vehicle. Then I saw Rhonda’s post a while back about having the need to transport perishables and thought this would be a good fit,” said Rissa Matsumoto, vice president of Auto Body Hawaii. “We are the ones that are blessed with opportunities like these to pay it back the way that we have.

“With all that The Big Island Giving Tree does for the Island of Hawaii, what better chance than to bless the giver? We thank Rhonda and the rest of the BIGT volunteers for all that they do for our community.”

Bell has continued deliveries, as usual, this week, but in the better-equipped SUV.

“We would like to give a special thanks to the Felte family and the Matsumoto family of Auto Body Hawaii for making this all possible,” she said. “With help from Josh Porter of Lex Brodie’s and Falken Tires for providing four new tires, we are ready to hit the road to bring God’s light into dark places, to bless those who need it most.”

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