May 4, 2014

Ashtabula Man Wins Car in donation Program 

JEFFERSON - A huge smile and a fist pump were the first reactions when James Jerina turned the key in the ignition of a brand new 2014 Hyundai Accent and it started immediately on Saturday morning at the Nassief car dealership.

Jerina was the 12th contestant, out of a possible 16, to try his luck on Saturday morning with a group of anxious people watching.

He said he always donates to area organizations so he decided he would participate in the Nassief donation program.

Jerina said he was a bit anxious when the other contestants were trying their keys. "I just kept saying, don't start, don't start," he said.

"It is wonderful," Jerina said. He said he bought his most recent vehicle at the Ashtabula Nassief car dealership.

The 16 participants were chosen in a drawing after receiving tickets for donations that they provided to area Nassief dealerships and participating agencies, said Mary Beth Nassief of the Jefferson operation.

The Ashtabula County agencies involved were the Animal Protective League, Goodwill and Country Neighbor Food Bank and received the donations during the last three months, she said.

Nassief said the car dealerships decided to participate in the program for the second straight year because of the success in 2013. "It's our way of giving back," she said.

Blake Johnston, marketing and development director for Goodwill, said almost 45,000 bags of donations were provided to the agency during the last four and a half months.

He said the donations allowed the agency to keep the Goodwill open all year. The extra donations provided a large enough volume of clothes to keep staff working throughout the winter, normally a slow time.

Johnston said the extra revenue from the Ashtabula Goodwill store, thanks to the donations, made it possible to fund a training program for potential workers with disabilities. He said they were able to place 14 area workers this year.

Diane Bradbury, director of the Country Neighbor Food Bank in Orwell, said the agency provides food for many Ashtabula County food pantries and the additional food was helpful in a slow time of the year.

She said it started slowly, but picked up towards the end as people became aware of the program. Bradbury said 3,500 pounds of canned goods were collected between Dec. 16 and the end of April.

The Ashtabula County Animal Protective League has a lot of happy critters after area residents donated hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food as well as cleaning supplies said APL Board President Justin Sartori.

"It was excellent it kept our food room full," he said.

Todd Nassief, owner of the Ashtabula dealership, hopes the event will continue next year.

"We didn't think it could out do last year, and it did," he said.

The 16 finalists included Mark Houser, Dan Kolick, Karen Kne, Natalie Stevens, Kim Bagslaw, Miranda Mason, David Gogul, Virginia Maurer, Linda Sowry, Mark Rose, Ruth DeFranco, Regina Wiencek, Don Koziol, Charlie Swich, Julie Grandbouche and Judy Drake.

The contestants each picked out a bag, which contained a car key, from a table and had their chance in order of their arrival time. Drake was the only contestant that did not attend the event.