Community With a Heart and Jenkins Auto Group help an Ocala woman. Many more people will need assistance this holiday season.
Latreisa Sumpter operates a commercial cleaning franchise to support herself and her three girls, but car problems have plagued her for more than a year. Her last vehicle caught fire in July. She’s been driving a rental for the past few months, hauling supplies to job sites.
But that all changed last week. Sumpter, 38, received a like-new 2012 Hyundai Sonata at Jenkins Hyundai of Ocala on Southwest College Road. She was given the car as part of Jenkins Auto Group's "Welcome to the Family"-themed quarterly charitable car giveaway, held in partnership with the local annual outreach Community With a Heart.
Sumpter has two daughters: Sa'Niya, 12, and Shayla, 14. A third girl, Teirra, 14, was adopted by Sumpter's mother, who died 12 years ago. Sumpter has cared for Teirra since the girl was 2.
The family was asked to come to Jenkins Hyundai of Ocala just after 4 p.m. Thursday under the guise that they were one of three finalist families to be awarded the car. The four anxiously waited to learn who had been selected.
Then Tom Formanek, CEO of Jenkins Auto Group, told her the car was hers. Sumpter, an Ocala native, cried tears of joy as she grasped the steering wheel of the Sonata and her three girls hopped in to try the sedan on for size.
The low-mileage gray Sonata was fully serviced by the dealership with a roughly $1,500 maintenance package, plus a detailing package. The Sonata's trunk has plenty of space for Sumpter's cleaning equipment.
"I love it. Everybody fits," Sumpter said.
She hugged and thanked Formanek, who along with Customer and Community Relations Director Maria Patino congratulated her and wished her well with the new ride.
Sumpter said her Coverall franchise cleaning business keeps her busy six — sometimes seven — days each week. Her father had been helping her with the rental car.
Sumpter and her family were nominated to get the car by Tiffany Porter with Jenkins Hyundai of Ocala. She would chat with Sumpter when she came to clean the dealership building. Porter realized what a difficult time Sumpter was having without her own transportation.
Scott Hackmyer, a member of the Community With a Heart board of directors, conducted an earlier interview with Sumpter at her home and determined the family's need and what a positive effect a car could have on the family.
Hackmyer said families he has interviewed over the five years Jenkins Auto Group has been holding the community car giveaway are still benefiting from having their own reliable transportation.
"(These families) still have the cars five years later and are using them for the same reasons, like work and doctor appointments. The cars have been a life-changer for these families," Hackmyer said.
Jenkins Auto Group has Hyundai, Acura, Honda, Kia, Mazda and other manufacture brand dealerships in Ocala, Gainesville, Leesburg, Venice, Jacksonville, and Lithia Springs, Georgia.
Monica Bryant, Community With a Heart chairwoman and another board of directors member, Lena Hopkins, were on hand for the event Thursday. Hackmyer said the occasion also served as a soft start for Community With a Heart’s annual holiday effort, which officially kicks off this Thursday.
Hackmyer said anyone who wishes to donate to this season's CWAH effort can send tax-deductible donations to Community With a Heart, PO Box 1777, Ocala, FL 34478, or call the Marion County Children's Alliance at (352) 438-5990 to have a message forwarded to a CWAH representative.
He added that the Sumpter family could use some additional pieces of furniture; anyone interested in donating could contact CWAH.