A South Carolina BBQ restaurateur is doubling as a mechanic, fixing up old cars and donating them to those in need, Fox 35 Orlando reports.
Eliot Middleton is the owner of Middleton & Maker Village BBQ in Awendaw, South Carolina. While he takes pride in his food and business, he also loves to give back to his community. In 2019, Middleton hosted a food drive for locals. While giving out meals, he noticed a few people who had walked miles to get a plate, unfortunately arriving too late to receive a meal.
“And I just felt from that moment is what compelled me to pretty much do the car program,” Middleton told reporters.
The program he’s referring to is an initiative he started through his charity, Middleton’s Village To Village Foundation. The experienced auto mechanic was inspired by that one moment to begin fixing up used, unwanted cars and donating them to families in his South Carolina community. He started small, fixing up one car in early 2020 to donate to a woman. He began accepting used car donations from owners who were previously thinking about taking them to the junkyard that fall.
Since his launch, the 38-year-old has repaired and donated more than 30 cars, estimating he’s performed almost $48,000 worth of repairs. The funding to purchase parts comes in from donations or out of his pocket. He has yet to turn away a family, but he prioritizes requests based on the urgency of the need. Today, he has a waitlist of 40 people looking to receive donated vehicles.
“I do what I can, and I give back what I can because the community supports me and my restaurant,” Middleton said.
While gifting cars to those who need them is a blessing in and of itself, Middleton also makes sure not to place additional financial burdens on the families. He only accepts economical cars that don’t require a hefty amount of gas and can handle the used parts long term. He makes it a point to avoid taking luxury cars that would require expensive parts and expensive long-term upkeep. When his clients do require future car repairs, Middleton works with them to keep the costs reasonable.
The restaurateur mechanic understands the importance of viable transportation for everyone and plans to continue his initiative, encouraging car owners to donate their cars instead of sending them to the junkyard.
“It’ll be a much greater feeling if your car – that you’re about to salvage – can go to a family in need and help them along the way,” said Middleton.