Eliot Middleton, a BBQ restaurateur and a mechanic, fixes vehicles in need of repair and gifts them to people in need in his community. According to CBS News, Middleton, who is the owner of Middleton & Maker Village BBQ in Awendaw, created his own foundation to donate fixed cars to people without a ride in rural South Carolina.
“They now know that there’s somebody in the community that was looking out for them and cared for them to be able to carry on,” Middleton said.
He has so far gifted more than 60 vehicles. Middleton started receiving donations of used and broken cars across the country from June when his story went viral. Almost 800 cars had been donated at the time, CBS News reported. Middleton said the donations taught him that “with somebody pushing the iron, there’s going to be folks behind you pushing the iron too.”
He recently gave away 12 cars for the 12 days of Christmas. “You have no idea how much this means to me,” Aziare Green, who got a 2006 Honda Civic during the giveaway, shared with CBS News.
A single mom, Green previously had to wait and borrow people’s cars but now she has her own car thanks to Middleton.
“I’m so glad we were able to help,” Middleton said.
The idea to gift vehicles to people in need came to the mechanic-turned-restaurateur in November 2019, when he organized a food drive to distribute 250 boxes of his barbeque. He told CNN that when he ran out of boxes, he walked outside to see how many people were still waiting for food and saw a line two blocks long.
“That’s when I noticed most of those people just started walking back to the other side of town,” he said. “I caught up with some of them and found out they had walked three or four miles to get there to receive food, but couldn’t make it in time because they had no cars and they had to walk. I was very distraught to see that.”
“That was the turning point in my life when I made the decision to actively give my time and skills to give back to my community.”
He told CNN in July last year that to get the cars, he trades a plate of ribs from his restaurant, Middleton’s Village BBQ, to anyone willing to part with a broken-down vehicle.
Middleton recently turned his project into a non-profit organization called Middleton’s Village To Village Foundation.