Christmas came early for four East Bay families who thanks to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, drove off with newly-refurbished set of wheels Wednesday.
Social workers handpicked parents who have children who need constant medical care and have had to resort to borrowing cars, using ride share apps or renting cars to bring their kids to doctor’s appointments.
“Every month, I rent a car to get here, sometimes, twice a month,” said Anna Cornelius.
She has to make a two-and-a-half-hour drive from her home in Sacramento to the hospital in Oakland so that her 15-year-old daughter can receive blood transfusions to treat her sickle cell anemia.
On Wednesday, GEICO and auto body repair company Caliber Collision teamed up to present the parents with the keys to their new cars.
“It was just a magical moment,” said Hayward resident Cecilia Martinez.
Martinez had to quit her job to take care of her two sons who suffer from a range of conditions including autism and epilepsy.
When her 2-year-old suffers from a seizure, she’s had to dial 911 or request an Uber to get to the nearest hospital.
“Now if something happens, I can just drive them there,” said Martinez.
The cars were equipped with a current registration, car seats, and a truck full of extra gifts like gas cards totaling $350.
“A huge weight has been lifted and I’m grateful,” said
GEICO donated the cars, some of which were involved in crashes. Caliber Collisions then refurbished them into mint-condition.
“Best day ever,” said Martinez.
Eight needy families in San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento also received new cars.