On November 8, 2018, local veterans got a brand new ride. The new van seats 15 and was presented to local vets at the Valdosta VA Clinic located at 2841 North Patterson Street. Robert Hutson of Robert Hutson Ford of Moultrie was on hand to deliver the keys during the ceremony. His father’s dealership made the donation of the new van possible. Before being brought to the ceremony, Joey Webb of Webb Graphics added the final touches that lets everyone know who the van belongs to and what it’s used for. To put it lightly, Valdosta’s veterans will now be riding in style.
A Community Comes Together
As the need for a new vehicle became more and more apparent the entire Lowndes County community came together to see what could be done.
The transportation service is all volunteer and all vans are donated. The search for a van donor had been going on for quite some time, without success.
But thanks to the tireless efforts of Tim Coombs of Hahira, a dealership that was willing to help was finally located.
“I have seen evidence of Colquitt County folks being very generous to Veterans. I visited Robert Hutson Moultrie, met with Robert Hutson Jr. and saw first hand that Moultrie generosity. What a patriot this man truly is.” said Tim.
Before long the money started to roll in. The local American Legion began fundraising efforts. Local veteran Jody Hall reached out to area banks and quickly raised a large chunk of what was needed to secure the van. The local DAV organization also made a contribution.
Local veterans and veterans organization across the county came together bringing in donations from numerous contributors. Huddle House and even the dealership joined in to raise money. Both businesses and private citizens alike made contributions that amounted to close to what the van retails for. Robert Huston Ford was glad to cover the rest so the van could be on its way to its new home.
What the New Van Means for Local Vets
Coombs, who also is a one of the local drivers for the van said, “There were times with the old van that I wasn’t sure we were going to make it out of town, and for once, it wasn’t because of me driving.” While the comment was made in jest, the fact was that the older vehicles used to transport local vets to and from doctor’s appointments in Lake City weren’t always reliable. Tim wears many hats in the Lowndes County area, but driving the veterans to their appointments is a privilege he takes seriously. With the new van up and ready to go, there will be no more doubts as to whether the veterans need to get where they are going.
Special Thanks To….
At the ceremony, local veterans surrounded the van, admiring the graphics and discussing what the van means to the local VA Clinic and the veterans it serves. State Representative John Lahood said, “Georgia has the fifth largest military population in the country. This will go a long way in helping meet their needs.” Sheriff Ashley Paulk agreed, “It’s a great thing you’ve done for the veterans here.” Tabora Temple, one of many local veterans on hand, and Chad Adams of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System were present to receive the keys and help affix the van’s VA license plate.
The maiden run of the van was set to be Monday, November 12th. The van runs back and forth between Valdosta and Lake City several times a week to make it easier for veterans who may not be able to drive themselves back and forth. The local Vans for Veterans organization helped to spearhead the drive that eventually made the van possible. The vans must be donated. They aren’t purchased by the government. The only thing the government covers is the gas, insurance and license plates. Because of the generous donations of veterans and non-veterans alike throughout the Lowndes County community, the new van is both a reality and a blessing to those who need it the most.
Click Here to read a letter that was written to the editor of South Georgia Today by Tim Coombs in May of 2018 about the fundraiser.