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Friday, 19 June 2015 00:00

Auto Shop in Savannah, GA Donates Elaborate Custom Toy Car to Charity

Mike Kimball’s family owned Kimball’s Mobile Electronics has been a go-to car audio dealer in Savannah for more than 40 years.

Earlier this year, Kimball and longtime employees Chris Rawlins and Nick Hall put their expertise to use in a different way: They spent more than a month preparing for a toy truck build-off March 21 at Spring Break Nationals at Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center, one of the East Coast’s biggest mobile electronics trade shows.

The toy truck was custom-made and fully loaded by Kimball’s Mobile Electronics and won first place at the competition. After the win, Kimball announced he would donate the toy truck — valued at around $2,000 — to St. Joseph’s/Candler Foundations to be sold to support advancements in cancer care at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion in Savannah.This initiative will be the biggest charitable contribution Kimball’s Mobile Electronics has had to date.

“We’re really excited about donating to the hospital,” Kimball said. “When we first started to build the toy truck, we didn’t really have a plan to donate it to charity. But then the more the truck came along, the more it seemed like a great idea.”

Kimball’s wife Connie works at J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion and helped inspire the idea.

“We’ve had a lot of close loved ones suffer from cancer. And people at our church,” he said. “Everyone seems to be affected by it in some way or another. This donation seemed like a really good fit.”

Kimball is working with St. Joseph’s/Candler Foundations on an event to raffle off the toy truck.The foundation will take the toy truck on a “Tour of Savannah,” and it will be displayed at locations throughout the city, including the research pavilion as well as J.C. Lewis Ford.

The truck will be raffled on July 1. All proceeds will support Advancements in Cancer Care at the research pavilion as a part of the St. Joseph’s/Candler Foundation’s current fundraising initiative, which is called Advancing Excellence: Touching Lives.

“We are particularly grateful to Mike Kimball and his co-workers,” said Vernice Rackett, executive director of the foundation. “Mr. Kimball is creating a once-in-a-lifetime surprise for one lucky child.”

The toy truck is loaded with about $1,200 worth of equipment, and the truck itself costs $450. It has a back bumper that is a motorized amp rack, right-hand drive steering, an I-pad mini-custom installed into the dashboard, a fiberglass front speaker enclosure, custom LED lighting, flashy auto wrap in flat black in addition to Sony audio gear.

“The entire interior was completely fabricated from scratch,” Kimball said. “... All of the panels are covered in either vinyl or suede and were hand formed out of fiberglass or wood.

“The motorized amp rack was also a challenge as we had to cut and reform the truck’s under-frame to house the parts needed for the rack to slide in and out.”

Kimball, Rawlins and Hall spent their workdays with customers, so they mainly worked on the truck after hours.“We really didn’t really mind, though, as this was so different from our average job,” Kimball said.

Rawlins, who took the helm on the truck’s design, said the work was fun.

“You don’t get to do projects like this all the time. And it was a good bit of work,” he said.

Kimball said a couple of different people and companies wanted to buy the truck during the show in Daytona Beach.

“A guy from Sony wanted to even borrow it for a trade show Sony was participating in. But I thought it would be of much better interest to a charitable cause,” he said.

The truck won first against five other car audio retailers in the Southeast who were asked to build custom 12-volt battery-powered ride-on toy trucks that feature car audio equipment from major manufacturers.

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