Businesses pitch in to give soldier new car

Kent County

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With his old car breaking down, a local serviceman who has given more than a decade of service to his country received a free replacement Thursday.

The Michigan National Guard Family Programs, the nationwide Recycled Rides program, and close to a dozen local companies pitched in to give National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael Yelding the free car.

“Could it really be happening? Because this doesn’t really happen,” Yelding said before the car was given to him. “I guess it does happen; it just doesn’t happen to me.”

A team of people worked for a year at CARSTAR on 76th Street in Byron Township to repair a banged up car and make it new for Yelding. All of the parts and labor were donated.

“I don’t feel like I’m deserving and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I am always thinking of someone else,” Yelding said. “So I’m glad, obviously, I’m ecstatic. I can’t say thank you enough.”

Yelding has been in the service for 13 years, during which time he was deployed during operation Iraqi Freedom. He still works with the National Guard locally during the day and security for Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital at night.

When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his two kids.

“Nothing makes me happier than to see them smile,” he said.

Seeing the car could be a close second.

“It changes everything,” he said. “It’s an incredible gift and honestly I still can’t believe I’m standing here.”

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