December 14, 2012

OUR VIEW: A Good Neighbor gets a break

— A magical moment happened last weekend when Logansport resident Missy Iles showed up at the Mike Anderson Chrysler dealership to pick up her 20-year-old van after repairs.

The dealership had decided that rather than repair the van she had been using for her many volunteer efforts, it would simply replace the van with a model nine years newer in recognition for all of her good works.

Iles covered her eyes and started weeping when her pastor, the Rev. Clark Miller of Trinity Episcopal Church, gave her the news.

“I can’t quit crying,” she said. “I’m just thrilled. I don’t have to be afraid any more. I can go get whatever I need.”

The Pharos-Tribune had recognized Iles with a Good Neighbors award last year.

She was among the organizers of the backpack program that now provides food on the weekend for youngsters at all four Logansport elementary schools. She established an annual school supply distribution through her church as well.

She’s also involved with rummage sales for underprivileged families and with regular Peanut Butter and Jam open mic fundraisers at the Neighborhood Tavern.

Iles’ van had taken her on numerous supply runs for the various programs, including several trips to the Food Finders food bank in Lafayette, before breaking down last month.

Iles regularly drives as far as Indianapolis to buy supplies. On one such trip in November, she hit a deep pothole while her van was loaded with several cases of writing paper for a school supply drive. The mishap caused serious damage to the van, leaving it lopsided. Her daughter, Beth Kite, took the van to the dealership, where mechanics determined it couldn’t be repaired.

Kite’s friend, Melanie Kelley, shared the story with dealership owners Mike Anderson and Bill Thompson and general manager Terry Osborn, and the three decided to replace the old van. Iles’ family and friends kept the secret until Saturday when Iles showed up to pick up her vehicle.

The 1992 van had an estimated 270,000 miles on it. The 2001 model the dealership gave her as a replacement has about half that.

The Christmas season brings about the best in all of us and helps to make stories like this one possible.

For folks like Iles, though, the season of giving lasts all year round. We applaud her again for her community service, and we salute the Mike Anderson Auto Group for its generosity.