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Authorities identify man who died in fiery crash on Interstate 29 south of Grand Forks

Anonymous family pays it forward with donated car

MOORHEAD, Minn. — One thing after another went wrong for Breanna McKee, a single mom of four kids ages 3, 4, 5 and 8.

A crash more than three months ago totaled the front end of her 1999 Cadillac. The parts to fix it were too expensive. She lost her job. Bills piled up.

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McKee, 28, could drive her mother’s only car, but it was in an accident about two weeks ago. While still drivable, its heater then went out a few days ago, she said.

McKee didn’t have high hopes when she posted the request for a vehicle on the Women’s Impact Foundation website Dec. 23. The site allows people to post needs as well as offers of help.

On Christmas Eve, McKee received a phone call informing her of a life-changing gift.

A family wanted to donate a used car.

It was a car given to them a year and a half ago when they were down on their luck.

“It’s the pay it forward concept, but with a car,” said Women’s Impact volunteer Vanessa Bourgeois, who called McKee on Dec. 24. She described the gift as “two leaps of faith.”

The family, who wanted to remain anonymous, also offered to pay for the vehicle’s registration.

On Monday, Bourgeois and WDAY anchor Kerstin Kealy delivered the green Chevy Lumina to McKee at her Moorhead home, as well as a house plant, $300 Hornbacher’s gift card and gifts for McKee’s children, all from the anonymous family.

McKee, now a line server and cook at Qdoba, said the gifted car means “everything.” No longer will she need to scramble for last-minute rides or pay people to drive her. It gives her the freedom to run to the grocery store or laundromat when she pleases.

“The simplest things … it’s going to make everything better,” she said.

It also makes feasible the possibility of going back to school, something McKee has been considering.

“It’s been really rough, all the circumstances happening in the last three months,” she said. “This was my break.”

McKee said she’s usually the person friends and family go to when they need help or advice.

“I’m the one who does for everybody else,” she said. “My pride is too much sometimes.”

On Christmas morning, realizing the car was a possibility, McKee said she was grateful for the roof over her head, food on the table, and the few gifts under the tree.

“I can’t want too much,” she said.

She’s determined to pay it forward, too.

“If I’m able to, with anything I can do, I would … because there are so many people in my situation,” she said.

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