Taking refuge from the sun under a tent, Stephen Brewer sat on a cooler Wednesday behind the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope on Greene Street and waited until a potential bidder needed his assistance.
Around him, 44 vehicles of varying colors, makes, models and states of repair stretched out along the fence.
The Salvation Army’s auto auction will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, but bidders can get an early look at the vehicles. The preview began Wednesday and continues through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Brewer and others like him will be the direct recipients of the proceeds. A recovering alcoholic, Brewer has been working his way through the Salvation Army’s nine-month substance abuse rehabilitation program and is set to graduate June 25.
“It’s turned my whole life around,” he said.
On Wednesday, his job was to assist potential bidders who needed help.
Nearby, James and Okchi Moore were looking at a couple of Ford Rangers.
They drive a 1995 Chevy Astro van, and he wants something smaller.
“We need another pickup,” he said.
The auction offers more than just vehicles. There are four boats, a child’s ATV, a couple of campers and a motor home.
That was a surprise to organizer Shirley Suarez, who wasn’t expecting a motor home when a woman drove it onto the lot Tuesday to donate it.
The 1996 Pace Arrow Vision has only 25,000 miles; cedar closets; a full-size, walk-around queen bed; and spare tires.
“It’s prime. She even left the sheets on the bed,” Suarez said. It will be the only vehicle on the lot with a minimum bid – $6,500.
The auto auction is held three times a year. All vehicles are donated, which can earn the donor a tax deduction. On average, each vehicle brings in about $1,500, Suarez said.
All of the money will stay in Augusta, and most of it is used to operate the substance abuse program.
Participants in the program are provided food, shelter, counseling and transportation to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
“We have the brand name ‘Donate a car, save a life.’ We literally are saving lives,” Suarez said.