Independence auto shop holds drawing for free car repairs to those in need

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Auto repair shops aren't always known for their generosity, but one group of gearheads from the metro are helping the less fortunate make repairs to their cars, often doing it all for free.

They’re mechanics who do dirty jobs out of the kindness of their hearts.

Good things come in boxes -- like the one that sits on the counter at Blue Ridge Automotive. That's where the generosity has centered since before the Christmas season.

Owners at that new auto repair shop, which opened last March, have been giving away auto repairs since before the holiday season, and it's still going. Thus far, 12 less-fortunate car owners have taken advantage of free parts and labor.

Before the wrenches can turn, car owners are required to fill out an entry slip and drop it inside that box. Store managers said winners are chosen from a random drawing.

The shop’s staff originally intended to lend their services during the Christmas season, but owners said they're still hearing from people who need the help financially.

“If you had to average it, I'd say over $5,000 so far in parts and labor,” Don Hickson, Blue Ridge Automotive manager, said when asked how much money his store has vested in the giveaways.

“Once it was such a success, the owner said, 'We'll do a couple more per month. It could be two. It could be three. It could be five. I don't know,'” Hickson said.

Since Christmas, Blue Ridge Automotive has donated its services 12 times, helping single mothers and retired veterans, among others. Some drawing winners have needed brake jobs. Others received complimentary oil changes or minor engine repairs.

“If we take care of people, people will take care of us in the end," Hickson said. "We're getting a lot of business just from people seeing what we're doing."

Andrew Zingre, the shop’s primary mechanic, has been working on cars for 20 years. He said the store’s staff takes great pains to ensure the random nature of the drawing and to ensure no favoritism is involved in choosing winners. Once an entry slip enters that box, it’s fair game.

“They fill out their name, year, make and model of their car," Zingre said. "They put in what's wrong with their car or what they've been told is wrong with their car, and we take it from there."

These mechanics talked a lot about karma and the belief that people will reap what they’ve sewn in the long run. Hickson said the benefits come from passing on the almighty dollar and helping others who would suffer without their kindness.

“I feel for these people. I really do,” Hickson said.

Hickson said there are a handful of expensive jobs the garage can’t perform for free. He added the only way to enter the drawing for free auto repair is to visit their store at 3066 Blue Ridge Blvd. in Independence.