By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – She came to Minnesota with a backpack and $200 in her pocket looking for a better life.

Navy veteran Sierra was on her last leg when the community she now lives in came together to give her the gift of a new car.

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Joe and Jake Mauer from Mauer Main Chevrolet in Anoka presented her the keys. Jeremy McFarland took part in organizing the give-away, knowing it would change lives.

“Because at Mauer Chevrolet, Mauer Main, Mauer auto group, the whole Mauer organization, it’s more than cars, “ McFarland said.

Sierra walked out of the American Legion in Anoka to a gift that is more than just a means of transportation.

“This gave me a lot of hope,” she said. “This was the last time that I was going to reach out for help because I was so tired, but you guys gave me hope. Thank you.”

Sierra said it’s the love and support she gets from community that keeps her going. She is a resident at Haven for Heroes, an Anoka County and city effort to house veterans and give them an opportunity for a better life.

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“People like Mauer Chevrolet and the community reacted in so many ways and this is just one example of people digging deep and deciding that veterans are important,” said Minnesota State Senator Jim Abeler.

“This is everything but it’s not just the car that’s valuable. The hope in people,” Sierra said

“We’re a part of this community and when there is a moment where we can step in and help like we did today, we want to do that,” said Joe Mauer.

Sierra has a message to all veterans struggling to find their way.

“Please hold on. The trauma, the PTSD whatever is going on in your life – abuse, anything. Hang on. Just hang on and then reach out one more time” she said.

Sierra says this car will get her to job interviews for the next phase of her new life. She hopes to land a job in corrections or as an EMT, both of which are positions she held in the military.

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Reg Chapman