Companies work together to donate salvaged van to Big Island veteran

  • MAX DIBLE/West Hawaii Today
    James Balsai, left, and Reynold Doi of First Insurance Co. of Hawaii look on as Dale Matsumoto, right, of Auto Body Hawaii shakes hands with veteran Jeff Mayo of Captain Cook on Friday after the companies collaborated with Big Island Honda to gift Mayo a salvaged 2009 Honda Odyssey van.

KAILUA-KONA — Big families on the Big Island need big cars. This holiday season, a handful of local companies got together to find such a family and presented them with an early Christmas present to make their lives a little simpler.

First Insurance Company of Hawaii provided the salvaged vehicle, a 2009 Honda Odyssey van. Big Island Honda donated the parts necessary to reconstruct the van, and Auto Body Hawaii put the pieces back together.

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Meanwhile, Enterprise Rent-A-Car kicked in a $100 gas card and the entire package was presented to Army National Guard veteran Jeff Mayo, a father to eight children, Friday afternoon in front of Auto Body Hawaii.

“It’s kind of a big family, so (the van) is going to help with doctors appointments and getting them to school on time and the all around daily grind of being a stay-at-home dad, basically,” said a grateful Mayo, whose partner works two jobs to support the family.

Auto Body Hawaii donated its services as part of its Spirit of Kina‘ole Program, which concentrates on community outreach efforts over the course of the year.

Tracey Taylor, who handles marketing for the company, said this is the ninth vehicle Auto Body Hawaii has helped gift to Big Island families. The company typically works with local charities or organizations to find recipients, coordinating this year with the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“I was ecstatic they were able to find a family,” said Rissa Matsumoto, vice president of Auto Body Hawaii, who helped coordinate the effort with her husband, Dale, the company’s president.

“We want it to be a hand-up for them,” she continued. “You see, especially during this time of year, everybody is doing what they can to give back, but there’s always a sad story behind it. In this case, they needed the van because of the size of their family, and vans are very hard to come by.”

Reynold Doi, assistant vice president of claims with First Insurance Company of Hawaii, and James Balsai, a technical specialist there, flew to Hawaii Island from their home office on Oahu for the ceremony.

This is the second year FICOH has been involved in the vehicle giveaway on Hawaii Island.

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No representative from Big Island Honda was able to attend the gifting of the van Friday, but Phong Nguyen, branch rental car manager with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and fellow employee Kim Dumaguin showed up to chip in the $100 gas card.

Email Max Dible at mdible@westhawaiitoday.com.