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Car donations needed for local charity helping families in need

Updated: October 30, 2019 09:03 PM

Richard Johnson is retired, but for the last 25 years, the 85-year-old has been working at Auto Technical Incorporated in St. Paul, sometimes for 12 hours a day.

His mission is to fix up donated cars and give them to those in need. It's a feel-good job for all who work there.

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"Our goal is one or two cars a week, we do about 150 for the year," Johnson said.

"It's a wonderful feeling to know what I do here will go to families," said Teng, a mechanic who repairs the donated cars.

For the last few decades, Auto Technical Inc. has donated hundreds of cars, but tax law changes last year with the automatic deduction means donations are down more than 70 percent.

"People realize there is no monetary gain, they like the part about helping people and giving cars to our organization, but sometimes the cash value overrides," Johnson said.

Cornerstone Advocacy Service, which helps victims and families of domestic abuse, has five families on the waiting list for a vehicle.

"Without this program, there are just very few options for them that are anything like it," said Mary Lillo.

Lillo said she can't even tell incoming families about it.

"In all honesty, we miss it," she said.

Auto Technical Inc. is also a bonded and insured car dealer; some of the cars are fixed up and sold at reduced cost to fund the operations.

Johnson also said because of the donation decline, he is needing to purchase cars at auction, fix them up and sell them to keep things running.

"We used to have eight employees, now we have four, we used to have three mechanics, now we have two, so it's impacted us in that respect because we don't have as many cars to fix and the cars we fix are a little more marginal," he added.

Johnson said it's emotional knowing how great the need is and realizing they can't fulfill what they once did.

"There was a time when I would go pick up five cars almost every day," he recalled.

Johnson is hopeful people will find a way to help them keep the doors open, especially as we head into colder weather.

"It would really help us to be able to get cars that would support the program," he said.

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Credits

Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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