Her four girls excitedly chimed in about their travel wish.
"Oh, we get to go see great-grandmas!"
The Granada, MN, family leaves Nov. 22 on an hours-long drive north o'er the Minnesota River and through parts of the Big Woods to gatherings in Northfield and Elk River at the homes of Pierce's grandmothers.
A Thanksgiving journey as such would have been worrisome, if not impossible, if Pierce had to get behind the wheel of the vehicle she's been using to drive back and forth to work.
"There are 300,000 miles on that old van, there's no heat and no lights, and the transmission is bad," Pierce said.
"Fantastic," said Geralynn Kottschade, when told of the plans for the vehicle donated by the business she and her husband, Jerry, own---Jerry’s ABRA Auto Body and Glass, located at 1671 Madison Ave. “Holiday gatherings---that's what's keeps families together."
This is the eighth time Jerry’s and nonprofit Minnesota Valley Action Council have worked together to match a recipient with a new set of wheels.
Pierce caught a ride to Mankato to pick up the keys to a new-to-her 2008 Impala from Recycled Rides. A waitress who's receiving training to be a personal-care provider, she'll use the Chevy to go back and forth to work in Fairmont, about a 30-mile round trip from her home in Granada.
The car has plenty of room for booster seats and the 2-year-old, 4-year-old, 7-year-old and 9-year-old Pierce sisters.
Their mom was nominated for the chance to win a vehicle by a Head Start teacher who regularly visits their home, which is within walking distance to the elementary school the older siblings attend.
Selection of candidates is rotated each year throughout MVAC’s nine-county region.
Next year's Recycled Rides recipient will be a resident of Watonwan County, said Jones, manager of another refurbished vehicle program--- MVAC's Wheel Get There.
Jerry’s is a member of the National Auto Body Council, which sponsors the community awareness program that repairs and donates recycled vehicles to families in need.
Previous recipients from the region include a young mom who crashed her car while on an icy drive to work. She was insured, but the reimbursement was not enough to pay for a reliable vehicle. Another was a single dad who wasn’t able to get back and forth to a job and to his children’s day care. That 2009 Recycled Rides recipient became newly employed soon after he picked up his donated vehicle.
The Kottschades consider the gift a “pay-it-forward one.”
"Everybody's lives have hiccups," Geralynn said.