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Fremont shelter wins SUV

Register • Jan 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM

A Fremont shelter was recently put in the driver’s seat to help locals who’ve fallen on hard times.

Margaret Weisz, of the Liberty Center, accepted a new 2014 Toyota Highlander at the Kasper Toyota Scion location in Sandusky on Thursday. The Liberty Center was one of 100 recipients nationally that received a new vehicle.

The new Highlander is valued at about $30,000, according to an appraisal on Kelly Blue Book.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” Weisz said. “It’s amazing to know that a small organization could win such a fantastic prize”

Toyota donated 100 vehicles at dozens of locations across the country for the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest to assist shelters like the Liberty Center, which aims to help the community.

“It’s not often you see a large corporation donate to real people,” said Bryan Kasper, president of Kasper Toyota in Sandusky. “It’s nice to be a part of the community we serve”

The Liberty Center opened in 1994 and continues to help individuals and families who need food and a place to stay. The shelter assists more than 200 people a year.

“Sometimes families just need time to start over,” Weisz said. “It’s our goal to get people back on track”

The Liberty Center offers life skills classes and personal case managers to all residents, assisting them in job searches and such. At least 20 residents reside at the facility at any given time of the year.

Weisz said the new Toyota will ferry residents to and from job interviews, day care and the grocery store. The shelter’s insurance company won’t cover personal vehicles for these purposes.

“This is a huge blessing for us,” Weisz said. “We really needed this vehicle to help our residents”

When the Liberty Center entered the competition last summer, it was up against 2,500 other nonprofit organizations.

From there, Toyota narrowed the choices to 250 finalists. Votes were then tallied through an offering on Facebook.

Locally, the Liberty Center emerged victorious on Oct. 16.

“We’re very appreciative of everyone in our community who voted for us” Weisz said.

Toyota has donated 300 vehicles since the car giveaways began in 2011, said Michael Rebich, district sales manager for Toyota.

Toyota donated models that aren’t available to the general public yet, making even more of an impact as it exhibits the company’s appreciation for nonprofit groups, he said.

“We wanted a way for our vehicles to become a part of the local community,” Rebich said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t have another program next year”

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