By John Bailey
HICKORY – This year’s Catawba County United Way Fair Share Donor Car Giveaway winner was decided with the turn of a key.
In fact, it was the only key turned at this year’s event, which was set up with social distancing in mind.
Publix Lake Hickory Crossings employee Amy Hedrick was the first of ten Car Giveaway finalists ready to try and start the car at Paramount Automotive Group in Hickory. As soon as she sat behind the wheel and turned that key, it started, making her the 2020 winner of the 9th annual CCUW Fair Share Donor Car Giveaway.
Hedrick gets her choice of a either a Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra or Volkswagen Jetta from Paramount Automotive.
“I said a little prayer, and it cranked right up,” she said after starting the vehicle. “Honestly, I’m still in shock, very surprised.”
Employees of companies participating in this year’s Catawba County United Way campaign who were Fair Share Donors (1 hour pay per month) went into 10 drawings starting in September for a chance at being a finalist to win a new car.
Normally, the Car Giveaway is a public event with dozens of individuals watching in person. This year, only the finalists were invited, and they stayed in their cars, waiting to be brought into the Paramount Automotive showroom one at a time, gloved and with a facemask on before trying their key.
While she is thankful for being the winner, being a United Way Fair Share Donor the last four years is equally important to Hedrick.
“The United Way has helped quite a few friends of mine and helped me through a very rough time I had with some health problems,” Hedrick said.
“When I started four years ago donating, I never thought I would be the one needing the United Way’s help. You never know when you’re going to be put in that situation until something happens.”
The CCUW Fair Share Car Giveaway tradition was started when Benny Yount, owner of Paramount Automotive, decided he wanted a way to help support the annual Catawba County United Way campaign.
Nick Kincaid, Chief Operating Officer at Paramount Automotive said the company is excited to be part of the event every year and announced they will donate another car in 2021.
“In this time of need, it’s so important that we support organizations like the United Way that’s trying to help our community, because we know so many need help these days,” Kincaid said.
The Catawba County United Way’s work is focused on the building blocks for a good life: education, income and health. In 2019, local agencies who received funding from the CCUW helped improve the lives of more than 37,000 people.
Donor gifts helped fund tutoring programs for at-risk youth, provided shelter for the homeless, provided crisis assistance counseling for families, provided sexual assault services, supported emergency and disaster services, supported services for seniors and provided education on sexually transmitted diseases and Hep C.
“We are so thankful for all our donors who have given to the United Way year after year so we have resources for those in our community who are in need,” CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said.
This year’s 10 Car Giveaway finalists included: Tyler Garrison from Catawba County HR, Tom McNeely from Family Guidance Center, Soraya Place from Catawba County Library, Windy Kathal from Shurtape Technologies, John Rollins from CertainTeed, Marilyn Johnson from Hickory High School, Rebecca Tanner from Catawba County Schools, Sarah Shumate Catawba County DSS, Gena Barndhardt from Hickory High and Amy Hedrick.
The drawings were done each week by Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs.
The nine finalists who didn’t win a car received special gifts donated by local companies and individual families to help show their support of the United Way.
They included Martin Starnes & Associates CPAs, Peoples Bank, BB&T/Truist, Russell L. Isenhour CPA, Keith Mackie family, Morphis Law & Mediation, Century Furniture/Hickory Chair, Duke Energy and Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co.
To make a donation or to learn more about the Catawba County United Way’s mission call 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com. Also visit the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page.