Charity in need of car donations in Benton Harbor

A unique charity program is giving cars to people who need them in Berrien County. The program was started by the First Church of God in St. Joseph Michigan in 2010, and this spring they are in desperate need of certified mechanics and donated cars.

The Mission Outreach Director said 60-percent of people who live in Benton Harbor don't have access to a car, and while they might have a job, it's getting there that's the biggest challenge.

On Thursday night a certified mechanic and two volunteers worked on cars.

Erick Hengy said, “It might be broken down and they can't afford to get it fixed so we'll get those cars in and put the parts into it and usually what they do is pay for the parts over a period time!"

Roger Herbstreit is a certified mechanic and he said some business also donate car parts to their program.

Herbstreit said, “We try to get them ready so they'll last about two years to get people back on their feet so they can have transportation to work.”

Herbstreit said the program started when they began repairing cars for single moms for free.

Demarious McKinney is one person who was a car recipient.

McKinney works at a cemetery on Napier Avenue.

McKinney said, “Never miss a day unless it's a blue moon!”

He said he never misses a day at work, but when his car broke down, he didn't know what to do.

McKinney said the car ministry was a life saver.

McKinney said, “They fixed my repairs, took my original car, and one night my transmission went out and I called her and she put something together and I winded up having this and I've just been grateful ever since!”

Chris Britton said, “It's reversing the negative cycle of poverty that people find themselves in!”

Britton said they are in need of some help from the community because they are having to turn people away.  

Britton said, “Our three needs are donated vehicles, cars, trucks, suvs, even motorcycles, we need certified auto mechanics that are interested in volunteering and helping and giving back to the community, and we also need a good facility space.”

If you're an interested mechanic or if would like to donate a car or parts to this program, you can call the First Church of God at 269-983-1524.
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