For the 15th year in a row, Chilliwack businesses give away a car to a family in need

Cynthia Duguay, a single mother to three, was given a 2005 Toyota Corolla S

What began as a day like many others for Cynthia Duguay took a turn for the better when her best friend brought her to Fix Auto on Tuesday morning.

“A ruse has to happen,” explained Niels Larsen, sales manager at Valley Toyota. For 15 years, Fix Auto has been partnering with community businesses to provide a car to a family in need at Christmas – with Valley Toyota supplying the cars for the better part of a decade. The winners, however, are always brought to the shop for another reason.

This year, Danica Stewart, who nominated Duguay, told her friend she needed to pick up parts for her car as a way to get her to the shop.

“I thought this was an odd place to pick up a part,” said Duguay. “When we first walked up, I thought it was a staff meeting, or something.”

Instead, Duguay was greeted by nearly three dozen smiling faces as she was handed the keys to a new-to-her 2005 Toyota Corolla S.

“Besides my children, this is the best and biggest thing I’ve ever been given,” exclaimed Duguay during the event. Taken completely by surprise, the single mother of three was overcome with emotions when she realized what was going on.

“This is absolutely amazing and touching. My inner child has come out!” cried Duguay as she jumped and laughed with excitement.

Each year, Valley Toyota donates a vehicle its accepted on trade-in to be fixed up and given to a member of the community based on written submissions from the public. And from the 20 or so applications received this year, Larsen says Stewart’s letter about Duguay stood out amongst staff.

“Cynthia is a single mother of two boys (and one teenaged girl) who recently moved (back) to Chilliwack from Peterborough, Ontario,” wrote Stewart. She “was in an abuse relationship & I was able to help her move out here by offering her 3 buddy passes for her and her boys to get a flight … last May. She packed only the necessary things … (and) when they got here, her and the boys went into a safe house, now she has an apartment and the boys love their new schools.”

But Stewart says Duguay was still having difficulties with navigating her way to and from work, figuring out how to attend her nursing program come fall, and how to get her and her children to all of their appointments.

“We try and help her get places, but it’s (still) hard watching somebody struggle like that,” which inspired Stewart to submit her letter nominating Duguay.

“It’s really tough deciding (on a winner),” said Larsen. There are “so many people deserving and needing a vehicle,” but Duguay’s story really struck a chord with the entire Toyota staff.

Even the car’s former owner, Jenn Carman, came out and shed a tear as she watched her former car given to a fellow mom.

“I feel wonderful that it’s going to a good family and for a good cause,” she said with a smile. “The car looks amazing and I’m so happy (for the winner).”

And Duguay couldn’t be happier. “It’s going to enhance (my life), and the lives of my boys. And I won’t be left feeling stuck and isolated. My independence is back. This is wonderful, it opens up just everything. For me to and from school, and now I have options for to and from work.

“This makes me feel whole,” continued Duguay, wiping away tears. “Even though a car shouldn’t define you, but as a woman, this is just awesome, and as a mother. When my daugher comes from Toronto … she’ll be proud of me, and that’s what matters.”

In addition to the car, which was mechanically updated and fitted with extras like an updated stereo, backup camera and dash camera, Duguay was also gifted with $1,000 towards car insurance at HUB International, and a gift basket full of gift cards.

“I didn’t think (this) would ever happen (to me),” said Duguay after the excitement settled down. “I didn’t even know people got cars for Christmas, (but things like this) sure changes people’s lives, that’s for sure.”


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Cynthia Duguay (left) was the recipient of this year’s Toyota car giveaway. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

Just Posted

Column: Grade school students don’t have a voice during COVID pandemic

As adults weigh pros and cons of returning kids to school, is anyone asking kids what they think?

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Chilliwack Salvation Army to give away free laundry detergent and more at drive-thru event

They will be handing out Tide detergent, toothpaste and eggs to anyone who is in need

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Twister at the Chilliwack SPCA

Small animals like rats are one of the first to be surrendered and last to get adopted

Fraser Valley Bandits fall to Edmonton in CEBL final

Bandits lose 90-73 to Stingers in Sunday’s Summer Series final

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Most Read