PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Officials in New Jersey gifted refurbished vehicles to deserving veterans in need on reliable transportation.
Two local veterans, Anthony Roberson and George Rano, were presented with the vehicles on Thursday.
The life-changing gift will help provide some independence and the ability to work and take care of other veterans.
"I have stage 4 kidney disease and I do dialysis, so it's very difficult to get back and forth to treatment," Roberson said. "I honestly didn't think I was going to be picked, I was so so happy."
A 2020 Hyundai Elantra now replaces Roberson's 17-year-old vehicle.
The cars were donated by GEICO and refurbished by Dynasty Auto Body through the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program.
The Recycled Rides program allows businesses representing all facets of the collision repair industry to team up, repair and donate vehicles to people and families in need of reliable transportation.
Since the program started in 2007, nearly 3,000 cars have been donated at a value of around $42 million.
"A lot of the cars often time are donated at Thanksgiving and they're not always donated to a veteran, but John and I feel the veterans have given so much of their time and so much of their family time, that we want to give back to them," said Ann Kolea with Dynasty Auto Body.
"We were probably speechless for a whole 30 minutes, processing it and then we were like wow, we started talking about how we were going to put it to use, who's going to use it more," Rano said.
Rano was gifted a 2018 Ford Explorer. The Iraq War veteran served in the Marine Corps for 13 years and has since struggled with mental health issues.
"It means the world to me because me and my family can continue to move forward, for the last five years we were struggling to get back on our feet because we were homeless for a moment because that's how bad things got," Rano said.
But things are better now with the free reliable transportation, which is literally a lifeline for the two men who served with honor.
"I was like this is the greatest Christmas gift I could ever receive and it's a blessing, a true blessing, because there are so many out there who are in need and need help," Roberson said.
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