When Army veteran Cheryl Wiggins bought a lemon last year, she began to despair she would ever gain a reliable set of wheels to get around Hampton Roads again.
Then the insurance company GEICO stepped in to give her a refurbished car through the Recycled Rides program in early April.
The Recycled Rides program was set up by the National Auto Body Council (NABC) in 2007. Insurers including GEICO, collision repairers, parts vendors, paint suppliers, and other companies have helped deserving people who need cars since 2007. The partners repair cars that are damaged in crashes.
Wiggins said she served in the Army in the 1980s and the 1990s. The graduate of Granby High School in Norfolk, VA, served seven years active duty and ten years in the reserves. She returned to Norfolk in 2006.
Wiggins who now works in housing redevelopment has been without a car most of the time since 2015 when her son Christopher left home to study.
“In 2015 my son went to college. There was a balance in tuition. It was either the car or the tuition. I could not do both,” Wiggins said.
To make matters worse, she bought a Nissan Sentra that kept breaking down in 2018.
“It was a terrible transaction. I bought it sight unseen,” Wiggins said.
Although she didn't know it at the time, she had been recommended for the Recycled Rides program three years ago by Mission United, a nonprofit.
“They contacted Recycled Rides. I had contacted them for financial support when I needed knee surgery,” she said. “I had no idea I was on their radar—it’s amazing.”
She was presented with a refurbished 2015 Ford Fiesta at GEICO’s offices on Perimeter Parkway in Virginia Beach on April 3.
Wiggins, who now lives in Virginia Beach, has relied on public transportation for the last four years; although, her employer provides transportation on a bus to-and-from work.
“There are no words to describe how I feel. I have been given the opportunity to have a new car with no payment attached,” she said.
Wiggins said the only advantage of not having a car was she walked more.