The Tennessee River was the backdrop on Wednesday, Sept. 4 for a lineup of seven cars being donated by Greenway Automotive to Colbert County, AL, area school systems.
The cars — a Chevrolet, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia, all with less than 40,000 miles — were given to schools primarily for use in their driver education programs.
Two cars each went to the Lauderdale and Colbert County school systems; one to Florence City Schools, one to Tuscumbia City Schools, and one to Muscle Shoals City Schools.
Last year, Greenway Toyota of the Shoals donated a car to Sheffield City Schools.
The seven cars all bear the Greenway Automotive logo, and are valued in excess of $105,000, according to company officials.
Casey Coffee, chief operations officer at Greenway, said the gift came about as a result of a meeting with his general managers whereby it came to his attention that the schools' cars were accumulating, in some cases, dangerously high mileage.
"We're talking some of them in the 170,000 to 200,000 mile range," Coffee said. "Hopefully, these gifts will freshen up their fleets."
The keys to the cars were turned over free and clear following a short presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
"I know in this day and age there aren't many free gifts given with no strings, but these are strictly gifts from our company to the communities we serve," Coffee said.
Muscle Shoals High School Principal Chad Holden said he couldn't be more grateful for the gift of a Toyota Corolla.
"They were asking where a good location was for us all to meet to get the cars and I said, 'Hey, we're getting a nice free car so I'll meet anywhere you tell me,'" Holden said laughing.
Florence and Lauderdale superintendents, Jimmy Shaw and Jon Hatton, agreed that any day that starts out with being given free vehicles is a great day.
"We just appreciate this generosity more than they could know," Hatton said.
Autumn Tharp, a 10th-grader at Colbert Heights High School, said she'll soon be behind the wheel of a much nicer car than the one her school was using.