Homeless organization in need of new vehicle

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Cars are always being worked on at Corey’s Automotive Repair Shop in Virginia Beach, but the broken down van in the lot has been there numerous times.

“Electrical problems, brake problems, all kinds of problems that were caused by water,” employee David Swanson said about the van’s current condition.

The shop has worked on the van for years for free or discounted prices.

“This time with the flood, it was just beyond repair,” Swanson said.

The van belongs to Mariah Smith, the founder of Blankets for the Homeless. The college student started the organization in 2011 and distributes a number of items, including blankets, jeans and tents from vans.

“We’re busy through each season, but it is extremely busy throughout the colder months,” Smith said. “We’re constantly on the road.”

Smith used the van until Hurricane Matthew. She says she’s now relying on another unreliable van, which frequently breaks down.

“We’re constantly traveling all over Hampton Roads, late at night, in areas that aren’t the most safe, and we really need a reliable vehicle to continue what we need to do,” Smith said. “I want to continue helping people as long as I can and to do that, I need a vehicle. We need a vehicle to reach as many people as possible.”

Jeff Corey, the owner of Corey’s Automotive, first heard about Smith’s mission through their church and decided to help her along the way. Now, he’s asking the community for help to get Smith back out on the streets without any obstacles.

Smith says she’s hoping to get some set of wheels to continue what she’s been called to do.

“I want Blankets for the Homeless to grow to its full potential and I hope we can one day have a reliable vehicle so that we can stay on the road and be that mobile organization so many homeless people rely on,” she said.

If you’d like to help Blankets for the Homeless, you can visit their website at blanketsforthehomeless.org or call 757-434-4543.