Local veteran receives ‘life-changing’ surprise from thrift store volunteer

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A local veteran who relied on her family to drive her to work is now the proud owner of a 1999 Saturn gifted to her by a thrift store volunteer on Tuesday morning.

Janell Kinsey was speechless as she was handed the title and keys outside of Veteran’s Thrift Store in Kennewick.

“I’m so grateful to have a car for this opportunity to be able to work for me and my family,” Kinsey said. “I was riding the bus to work, my mom was driving me to work, and my daughter would pick me up at night.”

Kinsey said not having a vehicle was taxing for her family.

“It means so much for me to be able to still make a living and not stress them out as much,” Kinsey said. “The store and the donation have helped me so much to reach my goals now.”

Jon Bolliger, the car donor, said he had been volunteering for the thrift store for months and knew he wanted to make a difference.

“There’s something about this store that’s bringing people in. I knew that this car could help somebody change their life,” Bolliger said. “It’s the best feeling in the world. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude that this country has historically forgotten.”

And word travels fast. Just before the car was presented to Kinsey, another call came into the store; a 2001 Ford Focus is being donated on Friday for another veteran in need.

Jon’s daughter, Alexa, is the human resources manager for the store. Even though the store recently opened, she said it’s helped many local veterans already.

“Being able to see just so many people in the community they’ve never met but they see something and they want to help out is amazing to see,” Bolliger said.

She noted the store is always looking for volunteers and donations.

“We accept donations every day of the week except Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. behind the store,” Bolliger said. “If the community has something bigger they can call the store and arrange it. We also have a box truck that does pickups and they do that every day of the week.”

If you want to donate, Bolliger said to show up at the store to fill out some forms. Stacks of furniture and other goods are outside the donation drop-off area, ready to be moved to large storage containers before the fall weather takes full effect.

“[We] need people to volunteer,” Bolliger said. “We’ve got hundreds, maybe thousands of pieces of furniture out in the back parking lot. We need to get it undercover as soon as possible.”

Veteran’s Thrift Store is located at 908 C N. Colorado St. in Kennewick.

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