Two deserving veterans receive keys to newly refurbished cars

Posted at 8:43 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 20:43:25-05

Two deserving bay area veterans got a nice surprise today: keys to newly refurbished cars after falling on hard times.

The give-away is part of Progressive’s Keys to Progress program in conjunction with several businesses and agencies like Tampa Crossroads.

Up until this moment, 2016 has been the year to forget for Hillsborough County veteran Craig Kirkland.

This summer, his truck burnt to a crisp when the fuse in his speed control system sparked a fire. He was inside his home sound asleep.

“By the grace of God somebody pulled over and saw my truck lighting my car port on fire and woke me up,” he said.

He lost practically everything he owned.

“I had enough time to grab some essentials and jump out the window,” Kirkland said.

Fast forward to today and suddenly 2016 is becoming the year to remember.

“It’s going to change his life, I know it is,” said Linda Kirkland, Craig’s mother.

Kirkland and Donell Brown — another veteran down on his luck — but received the keys to newly refurbished cars at a ceremony Thursday morning.

Progressive and all the other agencies involved find veterans in need and on the brink of becoming homeless.

Not owning a car makes it difficult to get or keep a job, bring the kids to daycare, and make it to doctors appointments.

“This opportunity for transportation will allow them to continue to succeed,” said Justin Baker with Tampa Crossroads, who carefully vetted both recipients.

According to the Department of Transportation, roughly 40 percent of vets live in rural areas where public transportation is limited.

Kirkland and Brown both leaned on family and friends in order to keep their lives in order.

“I guess this makes it all worth it,” Kirkland said.

Progressive supplied both men with six months of free car insurance.