Harvey-impacted families receive gift of transportation from longtime HCDE supporter Bates Collision Centers

Harris County Department of Education Head Start parent Vanessa Zuniga receives a new car from Bates Custom & Collision, December 14, 2017, in Channelview.

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Harris County Department of Education Head Start employee Bahiyyah Rashed and parent Vanessa Zuniga received the gift of transportation and Responsible Parenting Awards from longtime supporter Bates Collision Centers on Dec. 12 and 14. After losing their vehicles during Hurricane Harvey and enduring months of transportation challenges, Rashed and Zuniga were overwhelmed when receiving their rehabbed cars at the Bates Collision Baytown and Channelview locations.

The giveaway ceremony on Dec. 14 in Channelview looked different this year as Bates Collision Centers was burglarized the night before. While the rehabbed vehicle was unharmed, the wrapped gifts for the family were stolen from the facility. Owners Lee and Leila Bates, their employees and community partners came together and acted quickly to replace the gifts in time for the ceremony.

This year, more than 30 businesses in the Baytown and Channelview areas contributed to the annual car giveaways. Bates employees donated time to work on the cars and helped fill them with gifts, and other community members and businesses donated gas, insurance and materials needed the rehab the cars.

The Bates Collision and Head Start staff were joined at the giveaway ceremonies by members of the community, local businesses, elected officials, HCDE Superintendent James Colbert, Jr., and HCDE Board members Erica Lee Carter and Michael Wolfe.

In its 19th year, HCDE Head Start’s partnership with Bates Collision Centers gifted cars No. 33 and 34 to the two moms. Recipients of the Responsible Parenting Awards are chosen based on need, dedication to their child’s education and commitment to becoming self-sufficient.

Superintendent Colbert believes the partnership between HCDE Head Start and Bates Collision Centers is particularly important this year as much of the county faces transportation issues post-Harvey.

“Hurricane Harvey has dramatically changed what some people’s holiday looks like this year,” said Colbert. “It’s touching and impactful that, through our partnership with Bates, we’re able to give cars back to families that lost them.”

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