Single mom hits highway in free car
Samantha Dunstan was surprised with a 2017 Toyota Camry Monday afternoon.
The Callahan single mom’s shocked expression upon receiving the keys soon turned to a face streamed with happy tears as friends and family celebrated her good fortune at Carvana in Jacksonville.
“It means the world to me to not have to worry about a car payment or having to pay car insurance for six months,” Dunstan said.
The 23-year-old hair stylist faced challenges commuting from Callahan to work in St. Augustine in a used minivan that she borrowed from her parents. She is raising her son Joseph, who’s nearly 3 years old. She is also pursuing a nursing degree at Florida State College at Jacksonville.
She received the donated four-door sedan as part of Carvana’s Carpool Referral Program after friend Christina Jardine nominated her in May. The program donates vehicles to families in need. The young woman was selected from a total of 95 applicants.
In addition to the Toyota, Dunstan received a check that covers six months of car insurance and a Carvana car care warranty. A child’s car seat, snacks, first aid kit and a roadside tool kit were also donated.
“It’s phenomenal what they do,” Dunstan said. “I had no idea the program existed. It really is a dream come true. Thank you, Carvana.”
The total value of the donation was nearly $22,000, with all taxes and expenses covered by the company, according to Carvana co-founder and Chief Brand Officer Ryan Keeton.
“We wanted it to be a free and clear gift that they don’t have to worry about,” he said.
Jardine worked with Dunstan for more than four years in a hair salon. Understanding her struggles to make a better life for herself and her child, Jardine wanted to help.
“She’s wonderfully kind and generous,” she said. “She would give her shirt off her back to anybody. She never looks for a handout.”
Dunstan walked around the vehicle, opening doors and checking out the features of her Toyota. She took a moment to hold her son in her lap as she sat behind the wheel.
“Her car has not run since February,” mom Michelle Dunstan said, adding that her daughter was saving money to purchase a car.
“We’re very proud of her,” Michelle said. “Very proud. She makes sure that Joey has everything he needs. She’s a really good mom.”
As fate would have it, the Toyota was a good match. Dunstan had shopped for a Camry, but since it wasn’t in the budget, she considered a smaller Yaris instead, according to dad Dave Dunstan.