Free Christmas Giveaway Costs Some Recipients

Company charges $230 to return towed cars

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    A Salvation Army giveaway that offered free Christmas toys to people who couldn't afford them on Tuesday ended up costing some recipients hundreds of dollars after their cars were towed from a nearby parking lot.

    "What a sad thing when you're trying to help people and this just puts another burden on them,” said Rick Raymer, assistant area commander for the Salvation Army in Fort Worth.

    Free Christmas Giveaway Costs Some Recipients

    [DFW] Free Christmas Giveaway Costs Some Recipients
    A Salvation Army giveaway that handed free Christmas toys to the needy ended up costing some recipients hundreds of dollars. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009)

    The charity helped 1,000 more families this year, he said.

    Parking was a problem. With the Salvation Army’s lot on Felix Street full, some people parked outside a furniture and cell phone store about a block away. Many said they didn’t notice the no parking signs, which are posted at the entrances.

    "I think this is bad,” said 10-year-old Alexander Godoy, whose parents’ pickup was towed. “I think Christmas is ruined. It's not fair to us people who got towed."

    "It's nerve-wracking because it's already hard this year, I'm sure for everybody,” said Brandie Sandoval, a single mother of three.
    “This makes it even harder."

    “I don’t know what to do at this point,” said another woman who also returned to find her car gone.

    The owner of the cell phone store, Amigo Tek, said he was just trying to protect his business.

    "Nobody wants to be towed,” said Calvin Westbrook. “But I have to keep my business going and when it gets so bad (that) I can't have my customers come in, then I have to do something."

    The cars were towed to a storage lot in Kennedale, which charged $230 to return them.  Outside, several people whose cars were towed lined up outside the towing business, called “Vehicle Storage.”

    "Why don't you do the Christian thing and let these people have their cars back without charging them," one man asked the owner.

    The owner, who identified himself only as Eric, said he was doing his job legally and ethically and declined to make any deals.

    “You have a blessed day,” he said before walking away.