In the spirit of the holiday season, an Ottawa business has plans to make an unusually large gift to someone in the community: a car.
“No strings attached,” said Justin Scallorn. “We just want to give back to the community, because without it, we don’t have a business.”
Scallorn is the owner of Auto-Matic Credit Acceptance, a car dealership located at 1002 N. Main St., Ottawa. The dealership has plans to give an automobile to a person or family in need within the Ottawa community. Scallorn is asking residents to nominate individuals in need of transportation.
“We’re trying to help someone who has come down on hard times, whether it be health, financial, or just flat bad luck — life happens,” Scallorn said. “They can submit nominations to us through Facebook, email, phone call, or they can drop off letters if they want. Ideally we’d like to have the npminations in by [December] 15th, but if someone has a nomination after the 15th, I would encourage people to still get them to me.”
Residents should include contact information for themselves and their nominee, along with why their nominee is in need of a vehicle.
“We want the opportunity to hear everyone’s stories so that we can make the best decision on how this vehicle can be the most useful,” Scallorn said.
Though their storefront in Ottawa is new, Scallorn’s business has a history of annual giving dating back over half a decade.
“Our other store has been in business for just over six years in Cameron, Missouri,” Scallorn said. “We started [the car giveaway] when we opened. We wanted to find a way to give back to the community. We didn’t have the cash flow to give large donations, but we still wanted to have the most impact that we possibly could while still being a young business.
“We have large access to cars, and we figured that there are many people that could benefit from transportation, so that first year we said, “Why don’t we just give a car away?“
While getting an automobile in reliable shape for the giveaway, Scallorn’s business asks for donations from other local businesses in the form of parts, food, Christmas gifts or money.
“We tend to get a lot of donations because we don’t ask for a lot — we try to ask a lot of people for a little,” Scallorn said. “Once the car is in good shape, we’ll use any leftover resources to buy Christmas gifts, food and other things for the family. We’ve paid electric bills, multiple months of insurance, sales tax and registration of the vehicle — we want them to be able to put the keys in their car and then go on with their life.”
To Scallorn’s surprise, the fundraising giveaway has had a unifying effect on community commerce.
“We like to see how much we can bring the community together in order to do it,” he said. “We’ve had rival stores that will both donate to the same cause, which is fairly rare. I’ve had Advance Auto Parts donate at the same time O’Reilly Auto Parts is donating. Both Walmart and local grocery stores have donated. It’s pretty cool how everyone can come together to create this project.”
Scallorn sees the annual giveaway continuing well into the future.
“It’s just become so much a part of who we are as a business, that you can bet wherever our business is, we are going to try and help some people out,” he said. “It’s just what we like to do.”