Career Center students repair car, donate it to family in need

2013-12-02T16:36:00Z 2013-12-03T18:04:10Z Career Center students repair car, donate it to family in needBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Lily Hill, 6, climbed behind the driver's seat of the new family car, looked around and decided there was only one thing she really needed to check: the horn.  

It blasted clear and loud, and she smiled. 

The new car is a 1988 Lincoln Town Car, given to Lily's family by students at the Career Center. It was a huge moment. 

"It feels really good that we can give to such a deserving family," said Kyle McClintock, a senior from West High and an auto mechanics student at the Career Center. 

The family lives at the Montana Rescue Mission and spends a lot of time at the doctor's office. Lily has significant health issues, including a condition called gastroparesis, which prevents her from digesting food and requires the use of a feeding tube she has to wear for 12 hours a day. 

With no car, Morgan Hill has had to walk everywhere — including doctor's appointments — pushing her daughter Lily in a stroller. Morgan's 17-year-old daughter Sierra pushes Morgan's 4-year-old son in his stroller.

But the car changes that, easing just a bit a life that has been, for a long time, considerably difficult.  

"I'm in shock," Morgan said.  

The car itself was donated to the Career Center's auto shop last summer by a family in Laurel. Students in the SkillsUSA club undertook the work to repair it and get it running with the idea it could be donated to someone who needed it. 

SkillsUSA is a national club for high school students that focuses on teaching marketable skills to teens and giving service to the community. 

"This club really jump-started me," said Nate Liebe, a senior from Skyview who's studying construction at the Career Center. He's club president and joining is what turned him on to carpentry. 

"It not only helps us out, it helps out the community," he said. 

He worked alongside other club members, like McClintock and Austin Smart, to fix up the car and get it ready. 

"I thought it would be in worse condition," McClintock said. 

But all it needed was some basic maintenance, a fixed door handle and new filters. Club members made a list of the parts they'd need and approached NAPA, explaining what they were doing and asking if they could get the parts they needed at a discount.

NAPA donated them outright and praised the students for what they were doing.

The Lincoln is the third car in the last four years that Career Center students have fixed up and donated. Each time the school has a car it contacts the Rescue Mission, asking for help in finding the right recipient.

When the Career Center contacted the mission this year, the choice was pretty easy, said Karla Maslowski.

"Just the mobility factor," she said. The Hills "are completely reliant on their feet."

But adding to that Lily's medical conditions and it was clear the Hills were the right family for this car. Having it will make life so much easier for them, Maslowski said.

"This is just life-changing. It's a huge blessing," she said.

There was a clear sense of relief on Miranda Hill's face when she saw the car, climbed in and felt it out.

"Not having to push the kids in the stroller in this weather," she said. "It's like a miracle."

Josh George, one of the auto mechanic teachers involved with the project, smiled through the whole encounter between the Hills and their car.

He believes finding ways to help those who need it is not only beneficial for the community but for his students as well. 

"We're lucky to be able to do this," he said. 

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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