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updated: 12/13/2012 9:10 PM

Mundelein family receives new car as a gift

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  • Marita and Geoff Kovarik, of Mundelein, and their children, Colin and Crystal, thank CARSTAR after they received a car Thursday in Mundelein as part of its 2nd Annual Recycled Rides Program. The Kovarik family were the recipients this year by the company that gives away a rebuilt car to a needy family for the holidays.  $PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.com $PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

      Marita and Geoff Kovarik, of Mundelein, and their children, Colin and Crystal, thank CARSTAR after they received a car Thursday in Mundelein as part of its 2nd Annual Recycled Rides Program. The Kovarik family were the recipients this year by the company that gives away a rebuilt car to a needy family for the holidays. $PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.com $PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

  • Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comGeoff and Marita Kovarik, of Mundelein, pray as the car they were given is blessed by Father Gerald O'Reilly Thursday as part of CARSTAR's 2nd Annual Recycled Rides Program. The Kovarik family were the recipients this year by the company that gives away a rebuilt car to a needy family for the holidays.

      Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.comGeoff and Marita Kovarik, of Mundelein, pray as the car they were given is blessed by Father Gerald O'Reilly Thursday as part of CARSTAR's 2nd Annual Recycled Rides Program. The Kovarik family were the recipients this year by the company that gives away a rebuilt car to a needy family for the holidays.

 
 

Marita Kovarik and her husband, Geoff, own two vehicles, but both autos are in bad shape.

One, a 1994 Chrysler LeBaron with 155,000 miles on the odometer, leaks when it rains and "only runs when we say the Hail Mary out loud," Marita, of Mundelein, said without a hint of exaggeration.

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The other is a 2004 Chevrolet Venture van with 193,000 miles, a history of transmission problems and other ailments.

"(They've) been given a death sentence," Kovarik said of the automobiles.

Thursday night, the Kovariks and their children received what Marita called a miracle: a silver 2005 Chevrolet Malibu, shiny and fully paid for.

It was a gift from Carstar, a Mundelein auto repair shop participating in a national industry program called Recycled Rides.

It's the second straight year the business donated a car to a needy Lake County resident.

The Malibu, which has only 47,000 miles on it, came from an organization that acquires used vehicles for such promotions, said Jeff Silver, the local Carstar's co-owner.

"Apparently somebody bought this car for his college-age son, and when he graduated, he had no need for it anymore," Silver said.

The Carstar staff replaced the front bumper and a fender and did some other work on the vehicle. They had it detailed at a nearby car wash, too.

"It didn't really need much," Silver said.

Geoff Kovarik has struggled with unemployment over the last decade. He's working now, but only on a contract basis with Abbott Laboratories.

Marita Kovarik works at Santa Maria del Popolo Church as a singer and musician, and a church employee recommended the family for the program.

They learned they were going to receive the car about three weeks ago but didn't see it until Thursday night.

A green bow adorned the car when it was given to the Kovariks at Carstar. When the family saw the car for the first time, Marita Kovarik got down on one knee.

"God is good," she said. "Never give up."

A priest from Santa Maria blessed the car and its future occupants. He prayed they would drive safely and that the vehicle would never run out of fluids, which got a laugh from the assembled crowd.

Afterward, the Kovariks thanked the Carstar staff.

"If we could we would pass (the car) along to someone else," Geoff Kovarik said. "And when we can, we may do that."

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