PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One deserving family received an incredible Christmas gift Thursday morning.

A mother of three owned a car that wouldn’t pass inspection. She desperately needed a new car, and on Christmas Eve, that wish came true.

For Jackie Michael, the 2008 Buick with only 23,000 miles is the best Christmas gift she’s ever received. The Lincoln Place mom of three was facing some pretty rough times, when her car that she used for work and getting her kids around wasn’t cutting it anymore.

“It didn’t have a title, the windshield was broke, the coolant leaked out of it, it wouldn’t pass inspection,” Michael said, “and I wasn’t really supposed to be driving it at all. We only used it for emergencies.”

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She applied for what she thought would be a loan to buy a car through the North Hills Community Outreach. She didn’t even know that each year, Community Auto gives away a car on Pittsburgh Today Live. So when she got the call that she won it, it was the surprise of a lifetime.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “You don’t think that people care.”

 

For Brady Ridel with Community Auto, handing those keys over defines the notion that giving is really the best gift.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Ridel said. “There’s really nothing like making that call and telling someone, ‘Hey, you’re getting a free car.'”

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Ridel says Community Auto, who works with the North Hills Community Outreach, picks its winner based on someone who’s doing all the right things to get ahead in life but just needs that extra help.

“We’re looking for a compelling story of somebody who is on their way to being self-sufficient and successful, and they could use a little bit of an extra hand, and that was the case with Jackie,” Ridel said.

Community Auto also threw in a trunk full of Christmas gifts and a new car seat for her 4-month-old child who has a lot of doctors appointments.

Michael says her biggest challenge now is just trying to navigate the nicest car she’s ever had.

“I’m gonna just try and figure out how to use it first,” she said.