Neighbors gift money, car to Grand Ledge woman

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Jennifer Weldon was heading to her side job as a painter when she noticed her van wouldn’t shift into reverse.

She knew that probably meant her transmission was broken, so she immediately rode her bike to a car repair shop in downtown Grand Ledge to seek help.

Meanwhile, the single mother of our wondered how she was going to get to work or pick up her kids from school.

“It was going to cost around $2,500 to fix the transmission so I was trying to decide if I wanted to fix the car or just go get a new one,” Weldon said. “I knew I would have to find some other work because right now I only work part time so I can be there for my kids, which is super important to me.”

What she didn’t know was that her friends and neighbors were planning a huge surprise.

Weldon said she wrote on Facebook directly after her transmission died and within an hour she had friends offering to let her borrow their cars. 

Weldon’s next-door neighbor Matt Carlson was grieving a loss in his family after his father had unexpectedly passed away over the summer. His father’s death left his mother with an extra car.  

“I have two daughters and one of them lives in Portland, Oregon,” Carlson said. “We talked about possibly giving it to my daughter but we realized it would be a hassle getting it out there, so we decided we weren’t going to do that.”  

Carlson said shortly after he had that conversation with his mother, he ran into Weldon working on her car and that was when she told him her transmission had died. 

“I called my mom and said look this is what is going on and my mom was like just give her the car,” Carlson said. “This is the type of thing my dad liked to do, he liked to help people. We thought it would be nice if something good could come out of my dad’s death.”

The next day, Carlson said he received a Facebook message from a mutual friend telling him there was a group of people raising money to try and get Weldon’s car fixed. 

Grand Ledge resident Kerri Gallagher was a part of that group of friends. Gallagher said she has known Weldon for years but recently became good friends with her through their children, who are in school band together.

Gallagher said one of the band parents sent a text message saying they were going to try and raise money so Weldon can have a car. Once they found out her neighbors were already giving her their extra car, Gallagher said they still wanted to raise money to cover insurance and future repairs. 

“I’ve got to tell you that this happening didn’t surprise me at all,” Gallagher said. “She gives so much to other people, so things always work out for her. It can be the smallest thing or the biggest thing, Jennifer always seems to do what’s right and the universe always seems to pay Jennifer back.” 

Weldon said before she knew what was going on, one of the band parents messaged her asking if he could come over and take a look at her car. 

“It was later at night and I saw our little group of friends walking up the road,” Weldon said. “I thought it was weird that they were all there but also not because I hadn’t seen them in awhile. We were all just standing out there chatting and then they let me know when they heard about my transmission they started raising money to fix it for me. And then my neighbor one-upped them and ended up just giving me a car. I was just so shocked.” 

In the midst of her car crisis, Weldon said her daughter was having health problems and was possibly going to have to go to the hospital. After the surprise, Weldon was added to the Facebook group where her friends raised money for her and she was able to read all of their posts and conversations. 

“They were having this whole conversation about who was going to take care of the kids and pick them up from school and provide dinner for them,” Weldon said. “I’ve always known I have really great friends but this was just a reminder that I am totally not alone.” 

Gallagher said people in Grand Ledge have a tendency to come together as a community and she couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this act of kindness than Weldon. 

“She’s got four amazing kids,” Gallagher said. “Being a single mom and dealing with the challenges that she has to deal with and she never lets it get her down. It doesn’t matter what it is, she just always seems to be positive and in a good mood. She’s always Jennifer.”

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