Sue Higgs has always been a big believer in karma.
Be a good person, work hard, pay it forward. Good things are sure to follow.
Higgs was reassured of her belief this week when the mother of two took possession of a 2005 Toyota Corolla - fixed up from top to bottom and its trunk and back seats packed with groceries, gift cards and Christmas presents.
It was an effort spearheaded by the Salvation Army and Sidney-based Superior Collision Repairs to put a family in need into a reliable vehicle. But it quickly became a community event with nearly 40 businesses chipping in with time, services and products for Higgs, her husband, Mike Clough, and kids Cristel, 16, and Michelle, 10.
"We're over the moon, absolutely amazed at the generosity of the community and businesses," Higgs said Tuesday.
She had been driving a 1981 clunker with bald tires, a faulty transmission and no heat to get her kids around, and herself to and from her full-time work at Buckerfields. Higgs also works at Tally-Ho carriage tours and looks after other people's horses, cattle and sheep in the evenings.
"When you've been working in a wet paddock at night, it's nice to turn on the heat for the drive home," she said. "It'll be nice to have defrost on your windshield, too."
Higgs, 39, said she's been working full time since she was 14. Clough works as a trucker and excavator operator. But making ends meet is difficult, especially when it comes to owning a vehicle.
"This absolutely goes to my faith in karma. Sometimes you have to wait and sometimes it's really small things that come back to you. The other day I chased after someone leaving Buckerfields because I'd [short-changed] them a dollar. I wanted to get that back to him. People work hard for their money," she said.
Higgs said the outpouring of gifts that came along with the car - everything from groceries and gift baskets to gas and insurance for year - will now allow her to pay it forward.
"We are going to the malls to those Christmas trees where kids need gifts and we are going to buy gifts. We going to buy toys for little kids and jeans and clothes for the teens," said Higgs. "This is something we've always wanted to do, but never could because we just couldn't afford it.
"I'd just like to tell all those businesses that what you've done is incredible and thank them from the bottom of our hearts. Christmas means so much more now."
Rob and Allison Peters, owners of Superior Collision and the drivers behind the project, said the "new used car" initiative gathered steam in Sidney and beyond its borders with dozens of businesses jumping aboard. There were cash donations, passes from attractions and movie theatres, lavish gift baskets and restaurant gift cards, small appliances - not to mention the time given by shop staff and the parts and services from suppliers.
From all aspects, the car "is just like new," said Allison Peters. "It was just amazing how many people came together to do this. Sue and her kids drove out of here feeling like they'd won the lottery. I'll tell you, it was so great to see that."
The businesses who donated time, services and merchandise to the vehicle donation: Superior Collision Repairs Ltd.
Canadian Northern Shield
Collision Solutions Network
Royal Sun Alliance
B.C. Automobile Association
Cross Canada (LKQ)
Malahat Auto Recyclers
Victoria Front End & Frame
Western One Rentals
Charles Dickens Pub
Richlock Rentals Ltd.
Campus Auto Group
Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Panorama Leisure Centre
National Car & Truck Rentals
Fish On Fifth
Beacon & Eggs Woodshed-West Coast Kitchen
Regional Tire Distributors
Akzo-Nobel A-Coat Benevolence Program