Grote Automotive gifts van to grieving family

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Getting around town just got a whole lot easier for grandmother Ruthie Lucas.

Lucas was surprised with a 2016 Chrysler Town & Country van at Grote Automotive Sunday afternoon.

Lucas has been caring for her five grandchildren since their mother died from a medical emergency two weeks before Thanksgiving last year. It has been a huge financial undertaking for her, and after seeing her struggles, loved ones and strangers stepped up to make their lives a little easier.

“We saw it on [WANE] 15 but Mary [Oakman], her best friend, is the one that contacted us and told us all about it,” said Fred Grote.

Oakman, who has been friends with Lucas for 51 years and was godmother to Lucas’ late daughter Chastity Craig, said she saw her friend struggling and wanted to do what she could to help.

“Every time I would talk to her she was making two or three trips to school to sports activities and so on and so forth,” said Oakman.”Just the gas in itself was astronomical.”

Oakman said she called several car dealerships but only heard back from Grote Automotive. She worked with the dealership to surprise the family with a Chrysler Town & Country van. Grote said he could not think of a more deserving family to give it to.

“We love helping out the community,” Grote said. “Our slogan’s always been for the people and events like this one we can help somebody like this is, this is what we’re here for.”

The seats seven people, a large step up from the small Sebring Lucas drives now. She said she was shocked, but encouraged by the surprise.

“It will give me the strength and the courage to carry on the job that I got to do you know I’ve got to raise these kids,” said Lucas. “I know God is on my side.”

As they continue to adjust to life without their mother, the Craig siblings are overwhelmed by the support they continue to see from people they don’t even know.

“With all the support and all that, it makes you wanna cry but it just makes you feel how blessed you are,” said Chanteese Craig, 18.

“It just kind of like restores your faith and like other people,” added Bubba Craig, 15. “These people like don’t probably don’t even know me personally, but like they’re still willing to help out.”

The dealership will deliver the van to Lucas’ house on Monday.