Local family benefits from act of kindness
“Paying it forward” is a popular phrase used when doing a kind deed for someone else. Many individuals have come across a time in their life where they have benefited from someone “paying it forward.” That was the case for a local couple when they needed a vehicle several years ago. Now, the family is doing well and wanted to do something nice for someone. They wanted to “pay it forward.”
Jodi and Gavin Hollabaugh decided to sell their Ford Expedition. Before it sold, Gavin came up with the idea of instead of selling it, why not just give it away. Jodi was behind her husband 100 percent. She created a post on her Facebook page and the response she got was overwhelming. She requested for her friends to nominate a deserving individual who would benefit greatly from receiving the vehicle.
The Hollabaughs began accepting nominations on Facebook on June 21. “My husband and I have this 1999 Ford Expedition that we would like to give away to a deserving person or family. It is an eight-passenger vehicle and yes, it does run! It has been well maintained but is a bit of a gas guzzler. There is no catch to this. We have had a very blessed year and we just don’t need another vehicle. We are however going to pick who it will go to and this is where y’all come in! You can nominate yourself or someone you know that could use a little help in life. Maybe you know a single mother without a car or a family that needs a second car. All I ask is that you inbox me a private message telling me about the person and their circumstances and all messages will remain private,” was a portion of the post.
She immediately began receiving nominations, and for one individual, she received several nominations. It definitely tugged at the family’s heart strings and they knew not long after receiving multiple nominations, this individual is who they wanted to help. This one stuck out. “He was nominated three times and after reading his story and finding out he walks around and rode a bike to his job interview, we knew. We wanted to give it to someone who deserved it and somebody who was willing to help themselves,” explained Jodi. The individual chosen is Salem resident, Charles Rawls.
“We met this man many years ago we got the car from in North Carolina, and he told us years ago, when we were young and struggling, when you guys get on your feet, all I want you do is pay it forward,” said Jodi.
Charles and Michelle Rawls are parents to six young children. Charles is employed at Fulton County Hospital, where he must walk to work, which he does to provide for his family. Several of Charles’ co-workers immediately thought of him and his family when they saw Jodi’s post. When Gavin revealed to Charles why he was at his house, he said, “A bunch of your co-workers nominated you, so with an overwhelming response from the staff at the hospital, I’m paying it forward to y’all.” Gavin told him he understood what it was like to be young and struggling. “You have a car that is full of gas, full of supplies, car seats, money for insurance, I’ll pay the registration,” said Gavin. He also told him about a repair the vehicle was in need of, but Gavin would pay the bill to have it fixed at Leon’s Garage.
In addition to the vehicle, friends of the Rawls decided to pack the car full of necessities, groceries and car seats for the children. Thursday, July 5, a small group of individuals met at Dairy Queen before surprising the Rawls at home. One of the individuals who nominated Charles was present for the big reveal. She knocked on the door and the look on Charles’ face when he saw multiple people standing outside his home was confusion...and priceless.
While Charles and Michelle were preparing to come outside, the children had gathered around a window to see about the commotion. One child even said he would come outside IF he was given $100 and a car. Gavin’s response? “Well come outside and I’ll give you both.”
Jodi explained to Charles and Michelle what she and her husband had decided to do and about the nominations they accepted for the vehicle. Michelle was in tears, and both were speechless but very appreciative of the kindness they received.
“Thank y’all so much. I really don’t know what to say, stuff like this doesn’t happen to us. We usually take care of ourselves, but this is super random niceness,” said Charles.