Mike's Auto Body in Antioch gives 'Cars For Christmas'

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Mike's Auto Body in Antioch made sure the holiday season was bright by giving away four cars to needy people for Christmas. (Wayne Freedman )

In Antioch, another version of what is usually the happiest story of the year.

Wednesday? No exception as Mike's Auto Body in Antioch gave away four cars to needy people for the holidays.

That's Crystal Morris with her baby Logan in the cover picture. Six months ago, they were homeless, living in a car that barely ran even when she did have gas money. Wednesday, she received a like-new Toyota Corolla.

"This changes my life!" said Chrystal when she could finally choke the words out. She has health issues. So does the baby. No more public transit while going to doctor appointments.

Mike's gets the headlines, but the Benevolence Program, as they call it, is a community effort funded by local parts companies, insurance companies, and the sweat equity of Mike's Auto Body employees, who donate hours and sweat equity to restore what would have been written- off cars to shiny former glory and utility. T

he program has given away 72 cars in 16 years.

We found an added wrinkle, this season. Mike Rose, who owns 15 body shops, could not find enough qualified technicians, so he has established his own school to train them. The program is free, with classes in the morning and part-time work in the afternoons so that students can make ends meet. "Think of it as being our farm team," said Mike.

The classes have graduate 13 students, so far, and all have jobs. Nick Robinson will join their ranks, soon enough. He has two daughters, commutes daily from Antioch, and loves the prospect of a trade career that could pay six-figures in a few years. "It's a life changing opportunity," he said.

And yes, Nick worked on Benevolence Program cars, too. Imagine that-giving while receiving. Just one reason we enjoy covering this story ever year. It's feel-good from start to finish, and even more of one when we learned what Mike is giving to his 400 employees and their families for the holidays, this year.

An all-expenses paid cruise.
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