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Nate’s Community Garage is holding their first See Clearly and Drive Safe event. 

The event consists of a free car safety check, including a battery check, windshield wiper inspections and wiper fluid top off. The Goodhue County Sheriff’s office will also be there with a certified car seat technician to do free car seat checks. The event will be held on May 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and those interested should sign up.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this,” said Jim Polingo, who works at the garage. “Nates Community Garage has done several other money fundraising events in the past, car shows and food trucks and different things like that. This is the first time we’ve teamed with Goodhue County.”

Nate’s Community Garage’s mission is to help low income families and veterans get car repairs. So far, they have been able to do more than $20,000 worth of repairs, and have fixed up and donated two cars for families in need. They award $1,000 to those enrolled in the program and ask them to pay only 25 percent out of pocket.

The garage got the idea to hold the See Clearly and Drive Safe event after talking to an employee at Factory Motor Parts. When they were originally bouncing ideas around, they even considered a food drive. Eventually, when they decided on the event, the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office got involved because they wanted to have someone there to talk about car seats.

“A lot of people don't necessarily put the child seats in correctly and they’ll be here to help and assist and talk about that,” Polingo said. “Every now and again you’ll see someone with a child seat in the front seat, that's taboo, that's a no no.”

While the safety checks are free, they are also offering a reduced price windshield wiper replacement, with the help of NAPA Auto Parts. If you donate $10 to the garage, they will replace your windshield wipers, but if you do not have $10, Polingo said they are willing to bend the rules a bit to help out.

“If you go in to get them done it can be $40 to $50 to get your windshield wipers replaced,” Polingo said. “So, the fact you’re going to give a $10 donation towards Nate’s Community Garage is great, and of course we’ll use our discretion on that. If you're rolling through and you don't have $10 in your pocket and we recognize it, chances are we’ll just replace the blade anyhow.”

If you go in for the safety check, and they find something wrong with your car, Polingo said they will throw it up on the rack to get a better look and discuss with you what to do about it. 

“If you want to get the work done you can schedule right then and there,” Polingo said. “If you choose to schedule down the road you can do that as well. It’s a full safety check, with the lights, windshield wipers and car seat, but also if we get it up on the rack we could get a nice thorough lookover and make recommendations for people as well.”

Nate’s Community Garage and Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office are going to team up again down the road to offer a program called Etch and Catch, where the garage would engrave your license plate number on your catalytic converter. This would allow the police to identify the part if it were ever stolen from your car.

If See Clearly and Drive Safe goes well, it is possible Nate’s Community Garage would do it again, but it is not the biggest moneymaker for the garage, which needs donations to help their mission of fixing cars for veterans and low income families. If you want to donate either car parts or money, you can do so by emailing ncommunitygarage20@gmail.com.

“I think that everybody who works in this organization has a need or desire to help others,” Polingo said. “It’s about giving back, that’s what it’s always about. I think everybody here feels that way. We’re all blessed to have the opportunities we have in life and to be where we’re at and if there’s a way for us to give back or help, we’d like to.”

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