A Vernon car dealership has helped a young family gain traction amid COVID-19 with a free set of wheels.
Bannister Honda’s Giving Back campaign launched a month ago with the goal of giving free vehicles to two families affected by COVID-19.
On Wednesday, April 29, the dealership presented a Toyota Corolla to Sarah White and her six-month-old daughter, Isla. White was accompanied by her mother, Wendy, whose nomination won the attention of Bannister’s general manager.
“It was clear from talking to our customers that this crisis was hitting hard and hitting fast,” said Pat Loehndorf, general manager and partner at Bannister Honda. “There’s a lot of need in our community, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help.”
Loehndorf said he took stock of his used car inventory and selected a pair of vehicles suitable for families in need.
“We know that reliable transportation can be hard to come by during a public health crisis. That’s something I can help with, and we started with a safe, reliable Toyota Corolla to give away to a family who needs it.”
Bannister Honda put out a call for nominations on April 1, receiving well over 100 entries in less than a month. A panel of employees went through each entry before narrowing the list down to the single mother and her daughter.
“It was incredibly hard to narrow it down,” said Loehndorf. “And yet, I know that this vehicle will really benefit Sara and Isla. Their story really hit us hard.”
White’s story took an unexpected turn last fall, when Isla was born.
“I had a very complicated pregnancy followed by a very traumatic birth,” she said.
“My baby girl and I had a really tough start, and both of us almost died. We are so thankful to the incredible doctors at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Vancouver Children’s Hospital who kept us alive and together today.”
As a single mother, White’s first steps into parenthood have been further hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made daily tasks more difficult without a vehicle.
“I can’t describe how much this is going to change our lives. To have such a huge source of worry and stress lifted of my shoulders is just so amazing,” White said.
Once the papers had been signed and a safety seat for Isla had been installed, Loehndorf said he couldn’t contain his smile.
“I’ve had thousands of happy customers drive off the lot, but this one … this one is special. I can’t wait to do this again in May.”
Bannister still has a 2008 Honda Civic ready to give away to another family in need. Nominations to receive a vehicle will remain open until May 27 and can be sumbitted at bannisterhonda.com/givingback/.