A wonderful article from Warren Dillaway of the Star Beacon:

JEFFERSON - As the eighth finalist in the Nassief Auto Group Donate to Win contest pushed the starter button, the rev of the Hyundai Elantra engine was quickly heard and Madison's Bob Aponte was the owner of a new car.

For months area residents have been donating to Goodwill, the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League and Country Neighbor in exchange for chances to win a car.

Aponte said his girlfriend, Rhema Viruet, and he coupon together and the results are helpful to area organizations. "So we collect a lot of stuff," he said of his bags and bags of donations to help other people and animals.

He said he enjoys helping other people because his family was helped as a child. He said his family had to rely on food banks and he likes paying back to those less fortunate.

Aponte said he has not decided whether to keep the car or trade it in, but he was surprised the amount of room in the driver's area of the vehicle. "It's actually pretty comfortable," he said while beaming through the open window as dozens of people watched and applauded after the car started.

He said winning felt "unbelievable." "I'm not going to cry," he said during a live radio interview after the car started. The finalists all stood in line waiting their turn to crank the engine and win the car with the first seven coming up short. Representatives from the three organizations that benefited from the promotion thanked the Nassief Auto Group for their help.

Eric Schwarz, executive director of Goodwill, said the event helps them through the winter months and insures clients remain employed and eventually gain skills to be hired at other jobs. "Your donations help more than you will ever know," said Tammy Dondorfer of the APL.

Dianna Bradbury, director of food operations at Country Neighbor, said food is needed all year so the special donations in the winter help a lot. "Thank you," she said.