BBQ restaurateur works in moonlight as a mechanic, repairs old cars to donate

Eliot Middleton knows the value of transportation and wants to make sure families in his South Carolina community don’t miss out on it.

Middleton, 38, owns a restaurant, Middleton & Maker Village BBQ, in Awendaw. But he’s also a car mechanic, and in his spare time he repairs used and unwanted cars and donates them to those in need through his charity, the Middleton’s Village To Village Foundation.

Middleton said he first came up with the idea in 2019 when he was hosting a food drive. He noticed several people walking for miles to get a plate but arrived too late as people with cars showed up in time to receive their meals.

“And I felt from that point on what drove me to do the automotive program,” he told FOX TV stations on Tuesday.

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He first repaired a used car and donated it to a woman in early 2020. Later that fall, he started his foundation, receiving used cars from owners who wanted to. originally throw them away.

Since then, Middleton has repaired and donated over 30 cars. Its repairs include a range of jobs, from replacing tires to replacing engines. He believes he made nearly $ 48,000 in repairs. Funding to buy coins comes from donations or from one’s own pocket.

“I do what I can and I give what I can because the community supports me and my restaurant,” he added.

Middleton said he didn’t turn down family, but prioritized their requests after talking to them. To date, he has nearly 40 people on his waiting list to receive a car.

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But owning a car is an added expense, and Middleton wants to be careful not to place a financial burden on families. It stays away from luxury cars, which require expensive parts to keep running. Instead, it receives and donates fuel-efficient cars that are not gas-guzzling and can handle used parts for the long haul. But if his customers need future car repairs, he works with them to keep costs down.

The rate of motorization appears to be increasing in the United States. A new study has found that the percentage of households without access to a vehicle has increased from 9.3% in 2011 to 8.7% in 2019.

Meanwhile, Middleton wants car owners to think about donating cars before throwing them away.

“It will be a much bigger feeling if your car – which you are about to collect – can go to a family in need and help them along the way,” he said.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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