BALDWYN – A Booneville mother juggling work, school and a toddler now has a reliable set of wheels, thanks to a group of local auto center owners.
On Thursday, NAPA AutoCare Centers of Northeast Mississippi presented Lauren Ward with a 2007 Cadillac SRX in the group’s Mother’s Day Care Car Giveaway.
“As local business owners, we all wanted to find something to do to give back to our communities,” said Kevin Walls of Estes Garage, one the seven auto care centers in the business development group.
Ward was nominated as a deserving mother by her aunt, Melissa Barnes.
“She needed a vehicle and deserved it,” Barnes said.
A reliable car will be life-changing for her and 14-month-old daughter Chaislyn George, Ward said after receiving the keys and papers for the car at Kizer Automotive in Booneville, one of the seven NAPA Auto Care Centers in the business development group.
“I feel like a big weight has been taken off,” she said.
Ward, 20, is studying at Northeast Mississippi Community College to prepare for nursing school, and works part-time at Fisher’s Restaurant in Booneville. Because she didn’t have the resources to purchase a car, family members, especially her 78-year-old grandfather, have helped her with rides to work, school, church and doctor’s appointments.
The past six months have been extremely difficult for Ward. Chaislyn’s father, Chance George, was killed in a car accident in December, leaving Ward to support their daughter alone. Ward also lost her uncle, Stevie Carter, in December and her mother, Carla Gann, in April.
The Mother’s Day promotion received 34 completed essays turned in online and at Bragan Wholesale Auto in Columbus; Kizer Automotive in Baldwyn; McCord’s Auto Service and Estes Garage, both in Belden; and Auto Medic, East Main Tire and Cliffs Care Care, all in Tupelo; and NAPA Auto Parts of Tupelo, Baldwyn, Booneville, Corinth and Columbus.
“It was tough,” for the judges to pick a winner, Walls said. “We were moved by some of the stories that people told us.”