At the best of times, John Leggat is a man of few words. But when he realized he was the winner of this year's Christmas Car Giveaway, those words became even fewer.
Surrounded by family and friends at Fix Auto in Abbotsford Thursday afternoon, Leggat was completely overwhelmed to receive a refurbished and sparkling 1999 Nissan Sentra.
"It'll mean a better life for them," said Leggat, still thinking of others. He was referring to his two teenage sons and two teen nephews who live with him in a small, two-bedroom apartment in Mission.
Leggat thanked the sponsors, the Abbotsford-Mission Times, Abbotsford Nissan and Fix Auto Abbotsford East (H&R) and Abbotsford West (Renascent) who teamed up for the eighth-annual car giveaway. Ben Alleckna, regional manager of Fix Auto was more expressive.
"It's going to better him and his family. It really helps him and his family get ahead and move up in life," said Alleckna. "Who knows, in five years he'll have steady work and may be buying a new car, and it'll be fantastic."
Two women in Mission separately nominated Leggat for the annual Christmas Car Giveaway.
Pam Somerville has known him for years.
"He is an awesome dad to his kids or to everyone he meets. John doesn't ask for anything. He gives his all into anything he does," she wrote in her nomination letter.
Mary Holtby has known Leggat for six months and was thrilled to see her friend receive the car on Thursday.
"I'm very touched to see that people would go out of their way to do this for him, and help him out at a time in his life when he really needs a hand up," said Holtby.
With the economic downturn of recent years, Leggat lost his roofing company, his home, his truck, his savings and his marriage ended.
He now lives in a small apartment with his two sons and two nephews, and struggles to find work in construction without a vehicle.
That may now change, thanks to his 'new' car.
"It'll make a huge difference in him securing steady employment and helping him get a better place [to live] for him and his sons," said Holtby.
"I'm just so overwhelmed and thankful for the sponsors who put this together, and the Abbotsford Times, to come together to help someone who's truly in need in making a big, big difference in his life. It's truly a gift from the community."
Other businesses, stepping up as sponsors included: Aggressive Towing (towing between shops); Sherwin Williams (paint for the car); HUB International Barton Insurance (for one year of car insurance); Keystone Parts (donated parts); and Wagonmaster Distributors (a year's worth of oil and fluids).
As dozens of folks and Fix Auto employees gathered in the shop for the unveiling, Leggat was hugged and congratulated by many friends.
He just kept on smiling.
"He's not expressive, but I know he's really touched," said Holtby.
"It's so fantastic."