Thornton resident Thomas Barta found himself in a rough situation when a reckless driver hit his older parked vehicle. He said there wasn't much hope for replacing it after the collision. Barta, an …
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Thornton resident Thomas Barta found himself in a rough situation when a reckless driver hit his older parked vehicle. He said there wasn't much hope for replacing it after the collision. Barta, an Army veteran who served in the military from 2001-04 and did a tour of duty in Iraq in 2003, has medical conditions that make it difficult for him to work full time, including combat-related PTSD.
That's why he was overcome with emotion on Nov. 5 at Caliber Collision in Englewood when he saw his refurbished 2013 Hyundai Sonata for the first time. The vehicle, which was given to Barta for free, was donated by Travelers, an insurance company, and Caliber Collision, an auto body repair and paint shop, through the National Auto Body Council's Recycled Rides program.
“It's overwhelming. It's so moving that so many people go out of their way to help veterans who are down on their luck, and I really don't have words to describe how much I appreciate it,” said Barta. The closest bus stop and grocery store from his house are hard for him to reach because of his medical conditions. Barta was nominated for the car by his case manager at the VA Medical Center.
The National Auto Body Council's Recycled Rides program is a program that involves insurers, collision repairers and others to donate vehicles to individuals and service organizations throughout the country.
“The experience for us is the absolute giving back. We know what these people go through and just to be able to see their face and know we have changed their life in a positive way — there's nothing better,” said Jim Frost, a regional manager for Caliber Collision.
The vehicle was repaired by mechanics at Caliber Collision who volunteered more than 100 hours of their personal time to refurbish the vehicle for Barta. Caliber Collision has donated around 350 vehicles over the past seven years.
“(Barta) was in need. It meant a lot to contribute and help out,” said Anthony Segura, who worked on Barta's vehicle at the Englewood Caliber Collision. “It feels good to give back, and it's nice to be part of a team that helps others.”
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