A car can tell a lot about a life, especially Jackie Goodyear's car, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.
"He shattered my windshield. He kicked in my van," Goodyear says, referring to her ex. He was so abusive, and sometimes so violent, she says, that she'd take the kids, run to the car and lock the door.
"I would just sit in the car," and he would pound from the outside in. "And I drive around with that memory and that thought. And someday, I'll have a nice vehicle," Goodyear adds.
That someday was today.
Ten years ago, Terry Franz started Cars for Christmas. Franz owned a used car lot in Kansas City and, as a promotion, he gave away some cars to people who couldn't afford them.
"It's about how you can change somebody's life with something that simple," Franz says.
Today, Franz gets people to donate their used cars. Mechanics volunteer to fix them up and local charities help Terry find deserving recipients. There's no shortage of those: This year alone, his group has given away more than 200 cars.
"I do better at giving them away than selling them I guess," Franz says when asked what happened to his used-car lot.
When he arrived to give Jackie Goodyear her car, she was confused, Franz explains.
"What I saw when I pulled up was, first off, a very confused look on her face, like, what is this about?," Franz says. She began crying tears of joy when he gave her the car.
Goodyear was nominated by Hope House, a local women's shelter that's been helping her.
She hugged everyone — repeatedly — right down to the cameraman. She was so grateful to finally be rid of that ugly reminder of some tough times.
"It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful," Goodyear says. "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."
"People always ask me why do you do it. Take a look, and it's self-explanatory," Franz says.
Terry's not a wealthy Santa, and because he's so much of his own time and money, Hartman reports, he's actually fallen behind on his own car payments — way behind — like he could lose it. ExxonMobil, sponsor of Assignment America, has agreed to completely pay off his loan.
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