Community Overdrive gives people a chance to “buy” a car without spending a dollar.
The program, which is under the Pledge 5 Foundation, hosts five-hour long volunteer days at different shelters and rescue centers.
Participants earn $50 in Community Overdrive credit for each day they attend, which can be used to receive a fully functioning car.
“People think it’s too crazy,” said Jason Bowman, director of Community Overdrive.
A lot of people think the organization won’t actually give someone [volunteer] a car but “we’ll do it.”
Bowman said there are three ways to earn a car: attend enough volunteer days and purchase a vehicle entirely in credit; deposit the accumulated credit and pay the remaining amount in cash; or pay 75 percent of the car’s cost up front and work off the rest through volunteering.
The program offers various vehicles such as sedans, trucks and SUVs, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Since its official launch in August, the organization has obtained seven cars and is working to get more.
Angela Goodwin, the assistant director of Pledge 5, said most people wouldn’t believe in the program’s incentive.
“I’m a firm believer in helping the underdog,” Goodwin said. “It was easy to be on board with that vision and understand what [Bowman] is trying to do.”
Bowman said the average participant would have to work a certain amount of days before actually getting a car. This motivates more people to volunteer on a regular basis, rather than just a couple times in a year.
Bowman said coming up with innovative strategies is the only way non-profit organizations can stay afloat in this economy.
“Gainesville is a tough market; ask any business owner,” he said. “If the program is unique and makes people feel good about contributing, then it will prosper.”
Carzilla, a used-car dealership in Gainesville teamed up with Community Overdrive to supply the program with vehicles.
Chris Harris, owner of Carzilla, said although he loses money through the donations, he feels it’s the right thing to do.
“Overall, the idea is great, and there’s nothing else like it right now,” Harris said. “Gainesville should be a place where everyone has access to vehicles and shelter.”
Douglas Rios, co-founder of Carzilla, said he wasn’t hesitant in donating cars to Community Overdrive.
“I love it,” Rios said. “We’re actually really trying to help people.”
Rios said he already considers his collaboration with Community Overdrive a success.
Some of the volunteers are struggling to support their families and a new car would greatly help them, he added.
Yaslin Gonzalez, a 22-year old Pledge 5 volunteer, said she is looking to buy a car next year and is interested in earning it through Community Overdrive.
“It’s an awesome incentive for people that maybe don’t have the means to get their own car at one time and are interested in volunteering,” Gonzalez said.
“The world needs volunteers,” Bowman said. “The opportunity [to help] is always there.”