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CHRISTMAS RIDE

Family gets blessing on 4 wheels

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Tiffany Harris responds with joy after starting the 2012 Suzuki Vitara presented to her and her husband, Kyle, Thursday during a ceremony at Hall Ford of Elizabeth City. Kyle Harris is seen to the right in the reflection. Hall Ford and Geico presented the car to the Harrises through the Recycled Rides program.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Friday, December 22, 2017

Just in time for Christmas one local family has received a blessing on four wheels.

Kyle and Tiffany Harris were presented keys to a free 2012 Suzuki Vitara during a ceremony Thursday at Hall Ford in Elizabeth City. The car was donated to the Harrises by Hall Automotive and Geico Insurance.

"This was just a huge blessing for us," Tiffany Harris said.

"We've been praying for years" for a second car, Kyle Harris added.

Asked who will be driving the car the most, Tiffany responded with a smile.

"Me!"

Before Thursday the couple had just one vehicle: a 2007 Nissan Sentra that Kyle drives to his job in Virginia. The former Navy sonar technician now works as an electronics technician for the city of Norfolk.

Because of Kyle’s commute, Tiffany has had to get up around 5 a.m. weekdays to prepare their children, Judah, 3, and Elsie, 2, to be picked up by their babysitter, who also happens to be Tiffany's ride to work.

That's all changed with the addition of their new family member, "Suzi."

"Her name is Suzi," Tiffany said of the Vitara. "We've already named her. She's a beauty!"

Tiffany now has the freedom to drop her children off at the babysitter herself and drive to Fountain of Life Church, where she works as the communications director.

For the last five years Hall Automotive and Geico have partnered in the Recycled Rides program, which is sponsored by the National Auto Body Council. The insurance company donates a vehicle that was damaged in an accident and listed as a total loss. Automotive service technicians donate their time to rebuild the vehicle to an almost new condition.

"To bring the car back to life" to provide the beneficiary "a brand new recycled ride," said Lance Carson, Hall Automotive's director of collision centers and parts.

Carson said the Harrises’ car is the fifth vehicle that Hall and Geico have donated as part of Recycled Rides, and the first they’ve presented to someone in North Carolina. It was also the first car they've donated during Christmas, he said.

"It's a humbling experience when we do this because you don't realize how much we depend on our vehicles," Carson said.

Also on hand Thursday was Frank Tate, an auto damage manager with Geico. He explained that when the insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss it pays a claim to the insurance holder and in essence the vehicle becomes Geico’s property.

Tate said the 2012 Vitara was declared a loss after having sustained significant damage to the left rear corner. One couldn't tell by looking at it Thursday that the sports utility vehicle had ever been in an accident so bad it was once declared a total loss.

Tiffany said after starting the vehicle up for the first time it was amazing how many people were involved in making her family’s dream come true.

"This is so awesome," Kyle said, expressing his appreciation for the Recycled Rides program. "We didn't know something like this existed in our area."

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