Donate a Car…Build a Home

Maybe you’d love to donate some of your time to Habitat for Humanity because you believe in the work they do, building affordable homes for low-income families, but you don’t have enough time to spare. On the other hand, maybe you have a used vehicle that you need to part with. In that case, both you and Habitat for Humanity are in luck.

Their national “Cars for Homes” program has created a win-win situation, with Habitat for Humanity able to accept donations of cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, RVs and other vehicles. They then sell the vehicles through automobile auctions, recyclers or salvage yards to raise money that helps in the construction of homes, said Maureen Clary, executive director of Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West.

Funds generated from the sale of the vehicles benefits the local Habitat where the donation is made. The Cars for Homes program began in fall 2003 in the Seattle area, and since that time the sales have raised over $10.5 million dollars for families in need.

“We have always had individuals donate cars, boats and RVs,” Clary said. “However, our affiliate would have to handle the pickup, do the title transfer, and attempt to resell the donated items locally. This program makes it much easier on both the donor and HFHSTW as the recipient.”

Since Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit organization, it may be possible for donors to claim deductions on their income tax returns, if they itemize. In general, donors can deduct the fair market value of any car up to $499. If it sells for more than $500, the full price can be deducted.

The kicker is, “The tax deduction is often more than what they could sell the vehicle for,” Clary said, “and they know that their donation will go towards eliminating substandard housing in local communities.

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Spotlight on our Partner: Arthritis Foundation

Rheumatic diseases, arthritis and other diseases of the muscles, joints and bones are common and have tremendous impact on the health and well being of 50 million Americans.

And yet, despite how common these diseases are, awareness – which can lead to earlier diagnosis, better treatments and improved outcomes, more research funding and a steady supply of physicians trained to treat these diseases – isn’t as high as it should be. Through our combined advocacy efforts, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation are working to change that.

From advocating for specific legislation to meeting with lawmakers on the Hill to participating in arthritis-related coalitions, both the ACR and the Arthritis Foundation understand that educating Congress requires a sustained effort to create change.

Each day, the Arthritis Foundation works in communities across the United States, researching the causes of and cures for arthritis, supporting community outreach and education programs — which directly help families cope with this devastating disease — and driving grassroots advocacy efforts, which articulate issues and concerns for policy-makers and legislators. You can help make a difference in the lives of millions who live with the daily pain of arthritis. Sign up for the Arthritis Walk, or better yet, become a team captain. The funds you raise will help find a cure for arthritis.  No time to walk? Consider helping in another way – donate a car through our quick and easy vehicle donation program. Together we can bring awareness and inspire research to help millions worldwide.

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Changing the world…One nail at a time

Written by guest blogger: Sarah T., a recent Habitat for Humanity, Cars for Homes volunteer.

Charity, the practice of benevolent giving and caring

We are all changing the world we live in every day. Whether that’s for better or worse depends on our actions. Recently I was given the chance to do some good by contributing to other people in a meaningful way. I was part of a group that worked on building a home for a family in need through Habitat for Humanity.

One of the most valuable things you can give someone is your time. Did it matter that I didn’t know what a “blue board” was? Not in the least. I was there, and I was ready to give my time & energy into this project. That’s not to say that there weren’t a few bumps along the way.

As a cake decorator, I can honestly say I have never held a power tool in my hand before that day. When the screw just would not, and I mean would not, go into the wall, I exclaimed “Don’t you know I work in frosting, not power tools!” (In case you were wondering, the drill was on reverse) The professional construction worker supervising us was extremely patient & enormously helpful, leading us through the fog of first-time construction work.

We had an eventful day of dry walling the upstairs of the house. It was full of dust from the walls, measuring, drilling and a few scrapes along the way. But when we were finished, I looked around and instead of beams and emptiness, saw the beginning of rooms to a home. A new future for a family who really needed an act of charity from their neighbors.

I have hope that something good comes from such a simple thing as a house. It’s funny how helping others can make us feel. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe; a sense of fulfillment, a happiness that you can’t get from anything else. It puts a smile on your face and lightness in your heart.

There’s something hardwired into all of us that makes us feel like a million bucks when we are kind and when we are giving, and my experience was no different.

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Car Donation Wizard Visits Newport, Rhode Island on Volunteer Build – Habitat for Humanity Cars for Homes

By: Sam Andrews

Photography by: Marlayna Camara

At the Cars for Homes vehicle donation center, much of our time is spent in the office processing car donations that help our non-profit partners fulfill their missions. However, we do sometimes get the chance to work in the field with the charities we represent. So it was with great anticipation that several staff members finally ventured out on March 18th to help build a Habitat for Humanity home in Newport, RI, courtesy of Rhode Island East Bay Habitat for Humanity. We’re used to handling the “cars” part of Cars for Homes, but that day we experienced the home construction part of the program, which has been Habitat’s signature effort for decades.Cars for homes build

Newport is a quaint, coastal community located in Southern Rhode Island. For natives of the Ocean State it has made for fun summer day trips to various beaches, surf coves, shopping wharfs and fine restaurants in the area. It’s a popular tourist destination for travelers from all around the world. It also features the infamous Bellevue Avenue row of mega-mansions built towards the end of the Industrial Revolution as vacation homes. One such mansion, Rosecliff, was used for filming the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford. So while most of the staff knew Newport quite well, we were completely unfamiliar with the concept of home construction in this area.

The site is located off Thames Street, near Bowen’s Wharf in downtown Newport, which is rife with tourist traffic in the summer season. However the house itself is neatly tucked besides weathered-shingle townhouses on a quiet one-way street away from all the commotion.

When we first arrived, the most noticeable aspect of the whole scene was the construction. There was a lot of progress on the exterior, but inside there was much work to do with all the exposed plywood walls and wood framing.

If you’ve never been inside a home under construction, you’ll find the first time quite interesting. One gets a strange sensation of being at the center of a storm, walking in unfinished rooms that will someday have children laughing, playing, studying and sleeping, parents quietly reading the newspaper, families eating dinner together, and people living and breathing and going about their individual, innocent lives as usual. But to experience that before it becomes inhabited is like the opposite of visiting a haunted house of spirits past – it is like being inside a crystal ball, where you can feel the weight of an incoming presence before the events actually happen. This only compoundedCars for Homes building site in Newport, RI the importance of our physical presence in the present to briefly help make this dream come true.

For our actual duties, we were assigned with adding concrete-fiberglass composite siding strips to the right second story exterior side. This Building Homes in Newport RImeant experiencing another sensation that was also new to everyone: walking along scaffolding that was swaying in the cold wind 30 feet above the ground. Although the walkway was secured to the roof, we accessed it by climbing through a window on the second story. Once we were steady, a friendly worker named Jim would cut the siding inside and a staff member would hand the pieces to us through the window. Once the placement was measured correctly, we would line up the strips and nail them to the side. The results were instantly satisfying. Each additional piece would bring us closer to the roof. Eventually, we finished the whole side. The concrete-fiberglass pieces themselves were pleasantly colored in neutral Pottery Barn-esque shades of tan, forest green, and burgundy. At first some of us thought this would be the finished color-scheme, a “hip” patch-work look. But it was later revealed the siding would be painted over for a final finishing touch.

As the day ended, we took a moment Habitat for Humanity build siteto look out from the scaffolding and see all the other rooftops. It occurred to me there that this house was about to beCars for Homes, turning car donations into homescome a part of something, like all the other houses, a welcome addition to this seaside community. The difference is that we can say we helped build it, if only for a day. And for many months, many other people helped build it too, in the name of Habitat for Humanity. We left feeling happy, we helped a little, and we learned something. The seed has been planted for us to feel like we wanted to come back and help again soA house built with car donation proceedsmeday.

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