It was a confusing start to Kala Doneyhue’s morning in Penticton.
By the time 10 a.m. came around on Dec. 23, though, it all made sense, as the Christmas surprise of her life was unveiled right before her eyes.
For the second time in as many years, the Huber Bannister car dealership in Penticton gifted a free vehicle to a deserving individual. This holiday season, the winning prize was a red 2010 Chevrolet Equinox.
And after receiving more than 50 nominations, Doneyhue was selected by a panel of five employees as the winner of the 2022 Christmas Car Giveaway.
“It always feels so good when you see someone that emotional in the best way possible, especially when they may be going through challenging times,” said Julian Smallbone, the general manager of the dealership and the one responsible for presenting the local mother with the keys to her new vehicle.
Getting Doneyhue to the dealership on Friday morning, however, wasn’t so easy.
Her close friend was tasked with getting her to the dealership without raising suspicions about the giveaway. She first insisted on giving the single mother a ride to work early in the morning.
Doneyhue, who according to the panel often works seven a days week to provide for her loved ones, was reluctant on accepting the offer out of guilt, but finally obliged. She was presented with a vehicle one hour later.
A stunned Doneyhue watched as tears rolled down the faces of staff members at the dealership when Smallbone unveiled the Equinox’s keys and directed everyone’s attention to the dealership’s parking lot, where her Christmas surprise was waiting.
It wasn’t just the dealership, though, that made the holiday dream a reality. Customers of Huber Bannister donated gas cards ahead of Friday’s giveback and Maximum Insurance even included six months of free insurance.
Along with the vehicle — that’s currently equipped with winter tires — the dealership is gifting Doneyhue and her family with a turkey dinner this Christmas.
“The really exciting thing this year was that we had customers get on board for the giveaway,” Smallbone said. “People wanted to contribute, and now, she is going to get $200 in gas cards.”
Will Seguin, the general manager of sales at Huber Bannister Chevrolet, thought of the car giveaway idea prior to last year’s holiday season. Since then the community has jumped on board and those at the dealership hope the giveback will only grow as years go on.
“We want to see how we can make this bigger and get even more people involved next year,” Smallbone added.