October 3, 2022

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Global car shortage affecting WNC charitable business that relies on donated vehicles

By Hannah Mackenzie

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The global car shortage is impacting a local charitable business that relies on donated vehicles.

Jamie Beasley, executive director for Working Wheels, said they repair donated vehicles valued from $3,000 to $7,000 and sell them for $610 (including tax, title and license) to those in need of reliable transportation.

“We were hoping for 250 [donated] cars this year – which is a big number, but we were on track in previous years to hit that number,” Beasley said. “This year we’ll be about 15% short.”

According to Beasley, since many are having trouble getting their hands on a new set of wheels, they’re holding on to their vehicles for longer – leading to a drop in donations and an unmet demand.

“Our waiting list is longer than it’s ever been,” Beasley said. “The time between when you apply for the program and when you drive away in your vehicle is more like three or four months now. It used to be one or two.”

Dougy Desrosiers bought a car from Working Wheels six weeks ago.

“It’s not the prettiest thing, but it gets me from point A to point B, and I’m just super excited to have it,” Desrosiers said. “Working Wheels handled all the paperwork for me, getting the tag and the title, everything. It was a very seamless process.”

Before he bought his car from working wheels, Desrosiers said he was commuting three hours a day on the bus to and from work.

“From west Asheville, I had to transfer to two different buses,” Desrosiers said. “Then Mountain Mobility took me from the north Asheville stop to Weaverville.”

According to Desrosiers, his Toyota Corolla now provides him a sense of independence and freedom he didn’t have before.

“The other day, I wanted to go for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I didn’t have to reach out to a friend,” Desrosiers said. “I could just get in the car and go!”

In response to the dip in donations, Beasley said they’ve adjusted their business model.

“If we can’t fix donated cars, we can fix the cars that people are already driving,” he said. “We’ve been able to help 50 families in the last 10 to 12 months through that program.”

Working Wheels is always accepting vehicle and monetary donations. This Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30), the business is participating in a Facebook fundraiser. According to Facebook, Meta will match $8 million in donations to charitable causes starting at 8 a.m.

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