LAUREL, Md. -- Cavona Smith is a divorced single mom with nine kids. She lost her housing after lead paint contamination forced the family to abandon a unit they were renting in D.C.
Finding a safe new place has proven to be so challenging, Smith and the children have been on assistance and sheltered in temporary housing, like motels, for more than a year.
Smith's troubles are compounded by the need to shuttle two of her sons for treatments twice a week. They have life-threatening chronic kidney disorders.
The story of Smith and the children deeply touched Laurel, Md. car dealer K.C. Abaasi, who was searching for a family in need his business could assist this holiday season.
Wednesday Abaasi presented Smith and her children with the keys to a refurbished 2008 Dodge minivan at his AMKO Auto location in Laurel.
"I'm shocked, excited and grateful," Smith said as she sat in the back seat of the van.
"Housing is number one, but transportation is number two," she added as she told how she could spend hours shuttling children to and from Medstar Children's National at the Washington Hospital Center.
Smith is a certified aide for children with emotional disabilities, but has been unable to work while caring for the needs of her own kids. She said the minivan gives her options on both finding work and a new, safe place to live.