Puyallup: News

Puyallup homeless man sold ‘lemon’ car receives community support and a donated van

‘Back to square one’ Puyallup man buys car with donations, car soon develops problems.

The community raised funds to help Jesse Kinman buy a car to live in and to help get a job. Soon after purchasing a used van, the van started showing signs that it needed pricey repairs.
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The community raised funds to help Jesse Kinman buy a car to live in and to help get a job. Soon after purchasing a used van, the van started showing signs that it needed pricey repairs.

Tears were shed and hugs were given in a dealership lot as a homeless man got a second car in a month.

Puyallup came together in July to help Jesse Kinman buy a car, but the van he bought broke down two days after the purchase.

When word got out, the Salvation Army was flooded with community support to ensure that Kinman could get to work and spend time with his kids.

“It’s been an incredible blessing for him and his family,” Capt. John Kelley with the Salvation Army told The Puyallup Herald. “It speaks to the amazing graciousness off the community.”

Kinman has been living out a car for more than a year at Puyallup’s Walmart parking lot. That car was unable to drive more than a couple of miles at a time.

The lifelong Puyallup resident approached the Salvation Army, churches and local nonprofits, which pitched in $1,500 for a car. Days after he bought the car, the transmission went out, but the car dealership refused to buy back the car, saying that Kinman tested out the car and only paid $1,500 for it.

The Enumclaw car dealer later refunded Kinman the $1,500 and took the van back.

On Thursday, Kelley drove Kinman to Tacoma, where another dealership, Gene Pankey Motors, gave him a 2006 Kia Sedona for free.

“It felt good when he was taking car,” the general manager Dominic Adams said. “He was tearing up and gave me a hug. It made me feel like we did right a wrong in an unfortunate situation.”

Kinman plans to use the donations for food, gas and minor repairs the car needs, Kelley said. Attempts to reach Kinman were unsuccessful.

Many of those who offered to help Kinman mentioned they could help replace a transmission, perform an inspection, or do work on the initial car. Kelley said he was surprised by the amount of help and sees Kinman as a success story of what community outreach can do.

Kinman can now drive to construction work in Seattle, rather than relying on friends or family when they are available.

“We’re a part of the community, so if there is something we can do, we will,” Adams said.

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