KIMBALL, Neb. — When Kimball resident Caroljo Nagel received a new car last month, she praised God.
“It's not about me. It's not about the car. It's about God. Give it to Him,” she said after receiving a 2009 Buick Lucerne, courtesy of donations to a “pay it forward” campaign.
The campaign was started by Kimball resident Blain Schilreff, who noticed Nagel was getting around without a reliable car.
“She had paid $300 for her car after being on foot for three months,” he said. “Prior to that, she was walking for a year. She is definitely someone who deserves a good car.”
Schilreff had learned that Nagel, whom he knew through the Kimball Community Concert Association, had gone back to walking for a month after her car broke down. He said he couldn't get the thought of her plight out of his mind and woke up one Saturday, deciding to raise $3,000. He hoped he could raise the money with a Facebook campaign, which he eventually called the “Pay It Forward the American Way” campaign.
Instead of raising $3,000, he raised $15,000. He expanded his campaign from Facebook, going door to door and approaching local businesses. He had hoped to keep his efforts a surprise, but after Nagel learned about it, he publicized his campaign in an effort to reach more people.
Schilreff said he received donations from people in 10 states and even from someone living on the Pacific island of Saipan. Wolf Automotive of Kimball gave the largest donation: $5,000 toward the cost of the car. Halladay Motors of Cheyenne, Wyo., gave $1,000.
Nagel broke out in tears when she saw her car, hugging Wolf Automotive officials and others before driving it for the first time.
She said she also wants to “pay it forward.” After receiving the car, she said she could already think of people whom she could help by driving them to medical appointments in Scottsbluff. She rattled off a long list of people she had given rides to in the past.
“Every time I get in my car, I will think of the angels that were here and the people across the world who sent money. … The people who donated are an extended part of my family,” she said.
Nagel also received five yearly oil changes for a lifetime, paid-up vehicle taxes and insurance, and gas cards to help her get started with her new wheels.
Schilreff said he was “shocked” at the response to the campaign, which lasted about 38 days. Many people have told him that they are looking forward to other “pay it forward” efforts.
“This isn't about raising money for a car, or helping just one person. It's about helping people who don't have the money for food, maybe they are too old to open the door or they can't get somewhere and just need a ride. I believe it is going to touch people and they are going to do good things from this,” Schilreff said.
He and others have set their sights on making the effort an annual campaign.