Custom Collision car giveaway grows to four cars

Cars will be presented during Festival Days Barbecue and Burnout


September 10, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

A 2002 Buick Century, one of the cars Custom Collision Repair is giving away during Festival Days, is parked on the Custom Collision parking lot Monday.

A local auto repair shop is again expanding its car giveaway to provide people, who otherwise cannot afford a vehicle, with an important source of transportation, Custom Collision Repair Office Manager Lauren Hill said.

Custom Collision Repair is coordinating a presentation of four vehicles to people in need during Havre's Festival Days, with other members of the community also pitching in the effort.

"It's really nice because our main thing is to help out the people who work hard for what they have, they just haven't gotten to the point of getting a vehicle yet," Hill said. "It's super nice for everybody to come together and help us out."

Five years ago, Custom Collision owner Chris Preputin started the vehicle giveaway and has since, because of community effort and success of the program, been able to grow the program by adding one vehicle every year.

The program works by having community members who need or who know someone who needs a vehicle to sign up and provide a phone number. Applicants are asked to write a short essay about why they or someone they know needs a car, and a panel of judges chooses the person to receive the vehicle.

The vehicles which will be given away this year are a 2002 Buick Century, a 1998 Ford Escort, a 2000 Chevrolet Impala and a 1999 Ford Windstar, Hill said. She added that the Buick and the Ford Escort were donated by Preputin's family and the Chevy and Ford Windstar  were donated by E1 Towing.

Applications can be picked up and turned in at Custom Collision at 1710 First St. Northeast, she said, adding that people should turn in their applications sooner rather than later. The deadline for the applications is Thursday, Sept. 19, at 5 p.m.

The vehicles will be awarded to the selected applicants at Custom Collision's Barbecue and Burnout, to be held Saturday during Festival Days, following the parade.

She said that applications are due Sept. 19 to allow judges time to read through the application and make their selection of whom they think should be awarded. When the program first started out, Preputin selected a panel of three community members to be judges. After the first year, the judges from the previous year select from the community whom they think should judge the following year.

Hill added that anyone in the community can be a judge.

The judges read the essays from each applicant and select a number of people they think should be awarded a vehicle, she said. After the judges have made their selection, Preputin then takes the applications and gathers them and his employees to do another read-through and discuss who they should select to be the final four, Hill said.

"There are always powerful stories," she added.

Last year, they had 150 to 200 people submit applications, she said, adding that a large number of the applications they receive are from people recommending others for the vehicles.

She said the goal is to get an additional vehicle for the event every year. She said sometimes people approach them about a vehicle they want to donate, other times they reach out to their previous partners and ask if they have a vehicle or know of a vehicle which can be donated.

"My favorite part is everyone coming together to help people the people who work hard," she said.

Hill said that this year they reached out to a few businesses that they have previously worked with regarding donating a vehicle or a free oil change for the event. She added that at the beginning of the year they had someone who was interested in donating their vehicle, but they couldn't accept the car because it was in too bad a shape.

"That was really nice, we just couldn't make it work," she said.

She added that a number of people and businesses helped sponsor this year's event.

The Barbecue and Burnout at Custom Collision after the parade is open to the community and will have food and drinks, she said. The food will be from Fat Billy and the Boyz and the event will also have a burnout competition, where the driver spins the tires of a vehicle, causing them to heat up and smoke. She added that seven people have already signed up for the competition, more are welcome and people can also register at the event.

People can stop by Custom Collision to sign up for the burnout competition or find more information about the Festival Days event and about the vehicle giveaway.


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