‘I had this idea about giving cars away’

1-800-Charity Cars annually gives some $6 million in used cars to people in need. The Longwood-based nonprofit operates in all 50 states, providing donors with a tax deduction and providing people – including more than 200 LifeWorks graduates – with transportation that equips them to change their lives. Most recently, JP President Marc Stanakis presented LifeWorks grad Noel with the keys to a new-to-him car at the spring graduation.

Top photo: Every member of this 2008 LifeWorks cohort, pictured with Charity Cars founder Brian Menzies, got a job at AdventHealth and received a car. Photo above: At the spring 2022 graduation, Noel received keys to the car that will get him to and from work.

When you donate a vehicle, you can specify that JP benefits. A car in good working condition can go to a LifeWorks grad, or JP can receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the car’s sale at auction or salvage.

“You need a car in most parts of the country,” Charity Cars founder and President Brian Menzies says. “Transportation is a major hurdle to gaining and keeping employment.”

Brian owned a successful car dealership but says in the mid-1990s he felt empty and lacked purpose. “I had this idea about giving cars away,” he says, a small way to help people that grew large enough that he ultimately closed his business to focus exclusively on the nonprofit.

“I don’t know anyone with a bigger heart than Brian!” Marc Stanakis says. “He started Charity Cars because he had struggled with employment and transportation earlier in his life. You need a job to get a car, and you need a car to get a job. We both understand that — that’s why our partnership has worked so well for the past 23 years.”

Brian revels in the joy and hope Charity Cars brings to people in need. “I’m the luckiest guy. It’s the most fun in the world. When you give people a car, they scream, they cry, they praise Jesus – it’s a life-changing event.”

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