TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A group of Topeka soldiers teamed up to make a good gift even better for a fellow service member.
Spc. James Smith's family climbed into their very own van Friday. The presentation took place at Ed Bozarth Chevrolet, 3731 S. Topeka Blvd.
When the Kansas Army National Guard member returned from deployment to Kuwait, his three children from a previous relationship came to live with him. They joined his wife's four children and their child together. The Smiths found themselves borrowing a second vehicle so they could take all eight children with them to places.
The group Cars 4 Heroes heard about it and, last week, gave them a Ford Explorer.
But their good fortune didn't end there. A group of Topeka soldiers heard their story, too. Spc. Lawrence Kennedy and his father, Navy veteran Larry Kennedy, spearheaded fundraising efforts to get them a 12-passenger van, in which they could all fit together.
Smith says he is overwhelmed by the generosity. He says it means more than people know to be able to take the entire family in one vehicle. It also allows for one parent to stay home or attend to other duties while the other is out with the children.
The Explorer also will remain a valuable addition for the family, as Smith says it provides reliable transportation for work.
Smith says the work of Cars 4 Heroes is "amazing." He thanked Terry Franz, who founded the organization, along with the Kennedys for their efforts, promising to one day pay it forward.
Cars 4 Heroes helps provide free basic transportation to veterans and others in need.