By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– It looks like something a few dozen clowns would tumble out of. It has more glitter than a Liberace performance. And, it will be a $500 boost to the North Liberty Food Pantry’s coffers when somebody buys it.
It is a 1979 VW Rabbit, known as the “Sparkle Car,” for sale at Sherm’s Auto in North Liberty. Owner Steve Sherman took the utilitarian economy car, which had been brush-painted a rather drab shade of brown, and transformed it into a one-of-a-kind unit its future owner will never lose in a parking lot.
The wacky rabbit marks Sherman’s first “Good Cause” partnership, a way to give back to the community and help others.
“I have wanted to find creative ways to use the car business to raise funds for local good causes,” Sherman said. “The idea is to give back to the community that I am a part of through business endeavors.” He said such partnerships create an atmosphere of working together where everyone wins. “Its really neighbor helping neighbor kind-of stuff.”
While this is his first local effort, Sherman is no stranger to philanthropic efforts. Sherm’s Auto opened the doors last December and since then he has partnered with an orphanage in Honduras, which feeds, teaches and houses children.
Sherman is asking $1,500 for the car, with one third of the price going directly to the pantry. Pantry Director Tina DuBois said this is the first time the pantry has experienced such a unique fundraising opportunity.
“We’re very excited that Sherm’s Auto came to us with this proposal to benefit the pantry and families with food and clothing needs in the community,” DuBois said. Local businesses provide financial donations, in-kind donations and food drives on a regular basis. “Businesses in North Liberty recognize the need in the community and they are very committed to giving back,” she added.
The pantry averages more than 550 visits by an average of 225 families every month. The number of visits has steadily increased over time, DuBois noted.
“We noticed a marked change when unemployment went up rapidly in 2009, and numbers have not decreased since that time.” She pointed out that the cost of food and gas has continued to increase, creating problems for people on fixed incomes as they struggle to adjust to price changes on these essential items.
“We have volunteer opportunities available for those who want to serve the community,” DuBois said. “Donations of funds, food or children’s clothing are always welcome.”
As for the Sparkle Car, the German engineers designed it to compete against the gas-guzzlers of the late 1970s, so it sips, rather than gulps.
“It runs great and gets crazy-good gas mileage,” Sherman said. “But more than anything, it just makes everyone smile who sees it.”
To check it out, stop by Sherm’s Auto at 315 W. Cherry St. in North Liberty, or look up Sherm’s Auto on Facebook. Phone 319-665-2252.