Single mom gets free car for Christmas

new car

Single mom receives a car for Christmas

Waldorf, MD - On Wednesday, Dec. 21, Jessica Elders, and her son, 16-month-old Leighton Costanzo of Waldorf, received an unexpected Christmas gift. Team members at Service King of Waldorf presented Elders with the keys to her own vehicle courtesy of the ‘Recycled Rides’ program. Collision repair team members donated a month of their personal time to recycle and restore a 4-door 2011 Nissan Versa for a person in need. Elders was identified as the recipient through the Christian-based woman’s pregnancy support organization, the Catherine Foundation in Waldorf. 

Elders said, “I am very overwhelmed, this doesn’t seem real.” In 2015, Elders suspected she was pregnant and went to the Catherine Foundation. She told the services and support the foundation has given her has changed her life. Elders said, "Our relationship drew even closer once I learned the baby would have a birth defect."

Nurse Brenda McKnight of the Catherine Foundation said, “We have had a close relationship since Jessica’s pregnancy and know how hard it has been for her to work and take care of a special needs child with no car.” McKnight said, “We love them, Jessica and Leighton are like family. We keep in contact with her regularly to offer encouragement and support however we can.” Catherine Foundation staff were aware of the difficulties Elders had with transportation to Leighton's medical appointments. "When we were asked to identify a person in need, Jessica immediately came to mind," McKnight said.

University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is where her son Leighton receives healthcare services to treat his AV canal defect and Down syndrome. Elders said, “I would either get rides from friends or take a taxi everywhere I need to go.” Elders told that not having a car has been difficult but she does whatever is necessary to take care of her son.

Thanks to a special Service King in partnership with MetLife Insurance, Elders will no longer have to worry about transportation.

Service King celebrated 40 years of providing collision repair services to communities in the U.S. in 2016. Marketing Vice President Matt Robbins said, “We are always looking for ways to give back, this is one of 46 Recycled Rides we have given away this year, and our goal was 40. Robbins told this is a program of the National Auto Body Council where vehicles come to Service King that are identified as candidates for restoration after they have been declared a total loss by the insurance company.

Fifteen team members worked to have the car fully repaired, state inspected and tagged by Dec. 21. The service team told the 2011 Nissan was restored with parts and supplies donated from local part suppliers and businesses.  Local car insurance companies, Waldorf Service Center, National Hail and Dent, Keystone, LKQ, and Southern Tire worked collaboratively to make this day a reality.

“It feels good to know that a car will make a difference in someone’s life, said Robbins.

“I appreciate everything they have done for me because this is such a huge help,” said Elders.

Not only did Elders receive a free car, Service King worked with various insurance providers who donated other gifts. All State Insurance Agent Michael Weaver said, “We were eager to help support this effort. Our company believes in helping people in the community we serve.” 

Elders also received a car care kit, digital tire gauge, ice scraper, emergency road kit, gasoline gift cards and a check. While holding her son, Elders said, “Thank you all, this is a great Christmas present.”

Contact Shertina Mack at

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