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Nonprofit in Fort Myers surprises homeless veteran with car

A U.S. Army veteran in need received a life-changing surprise from a Southwest Florida nonprofit that’s all about veterans helping veterans.

At Hearts and Homes for Veterans in Fort Myers Monday, one silver car was waiting out front for veteran Alonso “Lonnie” Albino, who is homeless.

Albino was shocked when he was handed the keys and told the vehicle is now in his name.

Albino served in the U.S. Army, and, until the beginning of the week, he was using his bicycle and the public transit to get around.

“Oh, my god. This is — it means so much to me. This is gonna open some more doors for me,” Albino said. “I’m a heavy equipment operator by trade. I love equipment; it’s my passion.

And while Albino works to get back into his craft, the Hearts and Homes vice president, Tom Donoghue, told us the veteran’s new wheels will bring even further meaning to how he is able to support his loved ones.

“And he also has a handicap son that he cares for and needs to get him to the doctor and stuff like that,” Donoghue said.

Donoghue told us it was a collective effort to provide Albino with much-needed, personal transportation.

“It’s made possible because of very generous people that have donated this vehicle behind me that we’re donating to Lonnie Albino,” Donoghue said.

And Hearts and Homes has a thoughtful process it implements to make the selection for beneficiaries such as Albino.

“We have some pretty good criteria that we go through to determine who we award the vehicle to,” Donoghue said.

Hearts and Homes says it’s working on determining who needs the other car donated to its cause of helping veterans in need.

And, for now, it’s efforts have already been met with gratitude.

“I just wanna thank Hearts and Homes, the VA, everybody who’s helped me get where I’m at now very much,” Albino said “Thank you.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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