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Miles of Smiles offers hope
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · December 14th, 2017

Frigid winter winds swept over the crowd as they gathered near large space heaters and under canopys for the sixth annual Miles of Smiles event at the Marion Hy-Vee on December 6.

The event was broadcast live with Samantha Myers during TV9's 6 p.m. news. Myers interviewed both the Salvation Army's Major Allen and spokesperson Jerry Ackerman from Deery Brothers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, & Ram of Iowa City before the 2017 recipient arrived.

 Each year, the Salvation Army is given the honor of choosing a well deserving Miles of Smiles recipient family, and this year they picked a single mother of five children who, according to Allen, is a hard working and giving person. Ackerman said Deery Brothers gave the van, and Marion Hy-Vee gave smiles outside of the aisles, with groceries and a gas card.

Subsequently, Lindie Hunter, whose vehicle was in need of much repair, was surprised with her introduction by Allen to the cheering crowd. "It means a whole lot," she said with gratefulness.

Besides Deery Brothers, The Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids, Marion Hy-Vee, the Mount Vernon Road Tire Co., the Millhiser Smith Agency & Foundation, Barron Motor Supply, Complete Automotive, and The Marion Chamber of Commerce also participated in this year's Miles of Smiles. Additionally, the Goodyear crew at Marion Tire prepared this year's vehicle for delivery to the recipient, said Catherine Benham.

According to Benham, it was her husband Troy, owner of Marion Tire Company, who began Miles of Smiles about six years ago, after waking in the middle of the night with a vision to help families in need of transportation.

Since then, they have donated a total of 10 vehicles, six through the Salvation Army and four others in the community on their own. "We, along with our co-sponsors, are very pleased with the outcome thus far and look forward to continuing the program for many years to come," Benham said.

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