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Valleywide Focus

Clunker Cars Are Treasure for Charity

October 12, 1994|ERIC SLATER

Of course you want to rid your yard--or your neighbor's--of at least a couple of those wrecked Mercuries and feebly-running Dodge Darts. But towing costs more than the clunkers are worth.

Not anymore. A Los Angeles nonprofit group will haul off that ancient Pacer--or even last year's still-shiny Mercedes--for free, and in the process support mentally disabled Southlanders. Vehicle owners may even be eligible for a tax write-off.

Running or not, with or without doors, any car is eligible. "We'd be happy to take it," said Karen Segal of Best Buddies Inc., which will tow the vehicle, sell it whole or recycle it for parts or scrap metal. The dollars it brings are used to run a program that aims to build one-on-one relationships between mentally disabled people and area college students.

"What Best Buddies seeks to do is create these special friendships," Segal said. Students spend time with their buddies, who are otherwise often housebound and friendless.

Now operating across the United States and in several other countries, the organization is led by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, who started it in 1987 at Georgetown University.

While Best Buddies has been in place at several Southern California universities and colleges since 1989, it receives most of its funding from federal grants and special events.

To have a vehicle towed, owners need only prove that it belongs to them and "not their ex-boyfriend," Segal said, and it will be whisked away--in two hours or less.

Owners also will be given papers that explain how they may be able to write off as a donation the blue-book value of the vehicle on their next tax return.

In the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles, call (800) 213-8800 to participate.

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