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Auto Body Repair Students Thank Local Army Veterans with Car Donations

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

veteran stands with auto body repair students in front of new car

Army Veteran Shane Thompson stands with Auto Body Repair students who worked on the car he received as a donation.

Three local U.S. Army veterans will have much to be thankful for as they drive to their Thanksgiving celebrations in newly refurbished vehicles donated by Caliber Collision and GEICO. 

To thank and honor them for their service to our country, on November 13, keys to the practically brand-new vehicles were presented to Josh Evans of Washingtonville, Shane Thomson of Bloomfield, Delhi, and Anthony Gestone of Sharon Springs, in a special ceremony at the National Automobile Museum.  

The vehicles for the veterans were donated by GEICO and restored by teammates at Caliber Collision-Saratoga Springs who volunteered their time and talent as a community service.  Pats and materials were donated by LKQ Corp. The car donations are part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides™ program in which collision industry businesses team up to repair and donate cars to individuals in need of reliable transportation. 

The program has been going on for several years. New for 2018, students in the CTE Auto Body Repair program at the F. Donald Myers Education Center assisted in the restoration. They worked on the 2015 Nissan Altima, one of the three vehicles that were donated.

The students performed final detail work to the vehicle using the skills they've acquired at CTE to help others who have given so much for their country. The students used buffers, polish and finishing glaze to make the car shine for its new owner. Meticulously detailing the car panel by panel, inside and out, the students very proudly contributed to the effort of honoring our veterans. Along the way, they learned a few things about teamwork and completing projects under tight deadlines. The students were thrilled to meet Shane Thompson, the new owner of the car they worked on, at the unveiling and personally thanked him for his service.

The three veterans were nominated for the Recycled Rides program by Ulster County Veterans Services and SUNY Cobleskill, with support from Catholic Charities. See their bios:

  • U.S. Army Veteran Josh Evans served from 2005-2011.  He was awarded a Purple Heart for the many combat injuries he suffered during his deployment in Iraq. He still suffers from extensive back injuries, a traumatic brain injury that affects his memory and diagnosed with severe PTSD.  Despite his disabilities, he is focusing on completing his education. Attending classes at SUNY is often a struggle as Evans, his wife and 9-year-old daughter only have an unreliable older car that frequently breaks down.
  • U.S. Army Veteran Shane Thomson served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division from 2001-2004. He still suffers today from injuries sustained during a malfunctioning parachute jump.  Thomson currently serves as president of the Student Veterans Association on campus at SUNY and will be graduating this May with a degree in outdoor recreation.
  • U.S. Army Veteran Anthony Gestone joined the Army in 2003 and was honorably discharged in -2010. After suffering a serious injury during a deployment in Iraq, Gestone was transferred to the Linguistics Department where he worked in Military Intelligence.   He served a second tour in Iran where he was responsible for tracking terrorists and interviewing witnesses.

Over the past six years, Caliber Collision and its industry partners have donated more than 300 vehicles valued at over $3 million to military service members, veterans and others in need of reliable transportation.

Have a look at the Spectrum News coverage coverage of the event.

The unveiling of the 2015 Nissan Altima

The unveiling of the 2015 Nissan Altima.

Shane Thompson with State Senator James Tedisco

Shane Thompson with State Senator James Tedisco.

Auto Body Repair students have a chance to thank veteran Shane Thompson for his service.

Auto Body Repair students had a chance to thank Veteran Shane Thompson for his service.