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Total Stranger Surprises High School Custodian with Free Car

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Even when it rains, the sun can still shine. That's the optimistic attitude of a local auto dealer whose actions changed woman's life and potentially saved it.
Richard Newberry, owner of Spooner's Tires and Auto, gave a total stranger, Ernestina Nunez, her own set of wheels. Newberry decided to help the woman after seeing her walk every day to Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Even when it rains, the sun can still shine. That’s the optimistic attitude of a local auto dealer whose actions changed woman’s life and potentially saved it.

Richard Newberry, owner of Spooner’s Tires and Auto, noticed a woman with several bags walking by his shop the past few weeks.

Friday, he decided to talk to her and would soon found out the story behind a saddened face.

“She started crying like breaking down after a minute or two.” “I was like I’m your friend, I’ve been in this boat, I’ve been where you’re at and I’ve made it through it.”

The woman, Ernestina Nunez, told him she walked to work every day about a mile to Dixie Hollins High School.

Hoping to change that, Newberry offered to sell her a car for $600. She thought about it, then said she couldn’t afford it.

He lowered the price to $300-$400, but still the burden was too much. That’s when Newberry turned to his conscience for a decision and decided to hand her the key…for free. She denied his offer several times, which prompted him to go live on Facebook for everyone to see, he wasn’t joking around.

“I’m really serious, it’s yours.”

Nunez, with a heavy heart, moved to the St. Petersburg area a few weeks ago, hoping to leave behind a painful memory. But, losing a son for her is a wound that never leaves.

Nunez's son Daniel, a Marine, took his own life in 2015.

Daniel Nunez served in the marines and was deployed abroad. After coming back, he worked to start a family, even having two kids. But, the pain of PTSD was too much and he took his own life and in turn his mother’s soul.

Hope was also on the way out for her until she crossed paths with Newberry. This new car has given her more than just a way to work. It’s given her a reminder that people are kind and her life is just as important to the world as her son’s.

Nunez said her son was the only thing she had, so now she has a message to all service members: “they do a job and they do it well done. They go out there and a fight for this country and then they come home carrying the weight on their shoulders. And, I want to tell them that it’s only a job they’re that performing and they’re doing it very well.”

“I don’t want any marines or any servicemen to carry that on their shoulder. They go out of this country and fight for this country and I want them to take it as a job. Do it well done come home and forget all about what they had done.” “Just put it behind.”

Saturday, she returned to Spooner’s to pick up the title for the car, but for the meantime she still won’t be able to drive it. She has to acquire registration and a tag, which will cost nearly the same price the car was listed.

For now, she is grateful for Newberry giving her a bit of sunshine, during a time of rain.

“He’s given me hope on life.”

Newberry himself knows what it means to struggle. He had a troubled past and was even homeless. But, now he owns his business with a couple employees. By giving away the car, he made himself proud. But, he could be more proud when he reaches a milestone this Monday. For the first time in his 9-year-old daughter’s life, she’ll be visiting him without her mother by her side.

“To me that shows that I’ve made a big impact in not only my own life, but her, I’ve showed her I’ve matured, I’ve become a better person. It meant a lot for her to do that to me.”

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