Vernon Hyundai seemed an odd place to get coffee thought Anne Mae Rea, out with fellow Faith Baptist Church congregation member Sheila Robinson Tuesday morning, Dec. 21.
Robinson had to tell a small fib to get Rea to Hyundai, saying there was a parcel for her there and then they’d go for coffee. And, truly, there was something for Rea at the dealership.
It was grey with a red bow and green and red balloons.
General manager Nathan Mackintosh presented Rea with the keys to a refurbished 2004 Mazda MPV van which she can use after her old van was stolen in November. Rea was voted the winner out of 76 nominations for the vehicle in Vernon Hyundai’s Pay It Forward campaign, giving away a free vehicle to someone who can truly benefit from it.
For years, Rea has been overseeing breakfast and lunch programs at Harwood Elementary, where she started with breakfast, and later expanded to W.L. Seaton Secondary. She has no children of her own.
“All of the students are my kids,” she said, wiping away tears.
With help from her church, Rea makes and delivers meals at both schools. On Nov. 26, somebody stole her van from the church property. Police recovered it a couple of days later after stopping the stolen vehicle with a spike belt.
“This is something I can definitely use,” said Rea, joined at the auto dealership by a nearly a dozen family and church members as she picked up her new ride.
Emily Vankeimpema was one of Rea’s admirers on hand for the presentation. She was the one who put forth Rea’s name after consultation with fellow church women.
“I found out about the contest and entered Anne’s name,” said Vankeimpema. “She does so much. The program can’t operate without her or her van. And she is the most deserving person I know, 100 per cent. I know there’s a lot of deserving people but Anne Mae definitely deserves this.”
Mackintosh said Hyundai was overwhelmed by the number of nominations they received for their campaign, but Rea’s story stood out.
“She (Rea) is someone who truly deserves this vehicle as she gives so much to her community, mainly with making and serving breakfast and lunches to local elementary and high school students who don’t have anything to eat,” he said. “She has used her own money, her own will power and her own van to do this.”