The United Way of Smith County had over 2,200 supporters donate over $260, which earned them an entry to win a 2020 Jeep Renegade from Patterson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Tyler.

Each year, the winner is surprised. This year, the tables were turned on the United Way, which received the biggest surprise.

The winner owned the vehicle for all of five minutes before announcing she was going to pay it forward.

Rachel Means, a local business operator who leads a team at Employee Benefits Consulting in Tyler, said she doesn’t plan on keeping the vehicle for herself.

“We kinda want to do a pay-it-forward campaign. I am a big philanthropist for East Texas. I like donating to the charities that do good for the community. So we’re going to possibly pick a high school senior that maybe needs to go to school and doesn’t have a car,” Means said. “So we’re (leaning toward) that, but we’re definitely going to pay the vehicle forward and do good for the community.”

The United Way of Smith County and Patterson Tyler Motors teamed up to increase local awareness of how people in Smith County are helped by United Way.

It’s something Patterson Motors of Tyler has consistently done over the years.

Individuals who pledged at least $5 per week, or $260 annually, to the United Way of Smith County, were entered to win the brand new 2020 Jeep Renegade, courtesy of Patterson Motors in Tyler.

“We enjoy supporting the community who supports us and are thrilled to donate a vehicle each year for the United Way campaign,” said Kirk Wallace, owner of Patterson Tyler Motors. “The programs funded by United Way donations make an impact on countless lives and I am glad we’re able to be a partner in that effort.”

John Berry, the development director for the United Way of Smith County said the United Way has helped bring local people together, companies, non profits, and government agencies to tackle big issues. He said needs have never been greater since the impact of COVID-19 hit communities this past year and added all gifts given locally stay local and go directly to the programs.

“Huge thank you to the community for the support,” Berry said. “I meet donors all year round that will come up to me and say ‘Three years ago I needed a program that United Way supports to help me get through a rough patch and now I am in a good situation where I could help the next person in line.’ And that’s what this is all about, the community stepping up and helping each other.”

Berry and Wallace said they hope to continue the same event next year.


Video Editor / Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ana is a bilingual digital multi-media journalist. She graduated with a B.A. from Stephen F. Austin State University in Radio/Television Broadcasting. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas.