Saskatoon

Philanthropy under the hood: 5 lucky people get free auto repairs

It started out as an idea of a way to give back to the community. Now it has grown into a special Christmas offer. The manager of a Saskatoon auto repair shop is waiving the bill for five lucky people this week.

Jeremy Zelinski said it's a way for him to give back to the community in Saskatoon

Brian Kendall and Ryan Kendall with Jeremy Zelinski (left). Zelinksi fixed the latch on the Kendalls' van for free. (Jeremy Zelinski/submitted)

It started out as an idea of a way to give back to the community. Now it has grown into a special Christmas offer. The manager of a Saskatoon auto repair shop is waiving the bill for five lucky people this week. 

Jeremy Zelinski, the manager of Autologics, said the idea came to him last summer after he was asked to advertise with a local radio station. He agreed to sponsor an event with the station. But he started thinking that he should put that money into helping people directly.

Zelinski said he knows how hard it is for some people hit with a big repair bill. At the time he was considering changing how he spends his advertising dollars, some of his friends were losing their jobs. 

He started a six-month promotion in September to do free repairs for one car owner a month. 

"The advertising we've gotten out of it has been good, but that wasn't the intent," Zelinski said. 

"For me it's not about the advertising it's about spending money more wisely. Why just throw it away to the advertising companies when there's people, [for whom] that thousand dollar repair in that month could literally, it changes their life."

One of his first free repairs was for a woman from Martensville with a chronic lung disease. The transmission on her van had died and Zelinski offered to fix it. 

The repairs were supposed to be capped at $1,000 but this repair cost $2,500. 

Zelinski decided on the Christmas Special because normally this is a slower time of the year for his shop. This time the repairs are capped at $500.

On Monday, he repaired the back latch on a van belonging to Brian Kendall. Kendall's son Ryan has Prader-Willi syndrome and was recently profiled by CBC.

On Tuesday, he will repair a truck for a young woman whose boyfriend was in a motorcycle accident and broke his hip.

​Zelinski said people are reaching out to him on Facebook and they pick people who have a real need. He said they in turn check Facebook profiles to make sure people are legitimate.

After this week, Zelinski and his team will have fixed vehicles for eight people.

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