Man Gives Family Van

8 years 2 days 19 hours ago Friday, October 15 2010 Oct 15, 2010 Friday, October 15, 2010 7:14:51 PM CDT October 15, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - A family of eight got back on the road Friday after a gift from one Columbia College employee. Andy Upham saw the Smith family's story on KOMU and knew they were the perfect family to recieve his wife's van. Upham's wife died of cancer in 2008."I saw the opportunity for this family and they looked like they needed it, so I made some phone calls and said do some work on getting it to them," Upham said.

Upham said volunteering and giving back to the community was something he and his wife enjoyed doing together.

Two weeks ago, the Smith's only vehicle was totaled in their driveway by a hit and run accident. The motorist who allegedly crashed into their van was not insured. The Smith's, who are both students, only had liability insurance, leaving them wondering how they would pay for a new van.

Over the last two weeks, social worker Sherryl Laws and the organization Love INC. teamed up to try and get the Smith's a new van. Upham had the solution they were looking for.

"It's just nice to be able to help someone and make a difference," said Upham.

Everyone gathered on Columbia College's Campus Friday morning as Upham turned over the keys to Kelly and Dominic Smith.

"Thank you so much. You don't know what this means," Kelly Smith said as she gave Upham a hug.

"My pleasure," he said.

The Smith children were all smiles as they piled into their new van. "I like it," said 7-year-old Asia. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Surrounded by people who all came together to help them, the Smith's expressed their appreciation.

"Without all these people we wouldn't have a van," said Kelly Smith.

Her husband echoed her, "I'm excited that the community came together and that people care. I want to thank Andy, Sherryl Laws and Love INC for helping us, because we didn't know what we were going to do," said Dominic Smith.

With a quick change of plates, the Smith's made the van their own. A van that carries with it unselfish generosity from the Upham family.

"I hope Andy's wife was honored through this. It was her car," said Laws.

In the past  two weeks Laws and Love INC raised more than $1,200. They gave the money to Upham, who plans to donate it to the Coyote Hills home for abused and neglected children.

The motorist who allegedly crashed into the Smith's van is facing felony charges for trying to flee the scene. Police say it was deemed a felony because there was so much damage done to the Smith's vehicle.

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