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New vehicle will replace truck struck by deer

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FARMINGTON — A San Juan County woman was surprised with a new vehicle as part of an effort by the Farmington police and fire chiefs to help individuals experiencing hardship.

Members of the Farmington police and fire departments surprised Michelle Jacquez Friday afternoon with a check worth about $1,000 and a 2012 Ford Fusion from Ziems Ford Corners Inc. at the Farmington Civic Center.

Farmington fire Chief David Burke, and Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe and his wife Janet Hebbe formed the Guardians of the Good fund in November to help members of the community experiencing hardship during the holiday season.

They donated a combined $3,000 to the fund. A total of $4,270 — in addition to the car, which was donated by Ziems — was collected for distribution.

"It's been an amazing experience," Burke said.

Five people, including Jacquez, were nominated by the community and were surprised this week by fire and police personnel who delivered money to them to help with such expenses as medical bills and providing for their children, according to Farmington Police Department Facebook posts.

Jacquez was lured to the Farmington Civic Center Friday by her friends under the pretense of attending a baby shower. When she got there, Steve Hebbe and Burke presented her with the check near the Christmas tree in the civic center plaza. Ziems employees then drove the Ford Fusion to its new owner.

Jacquez started to cry as she was presented with the vehicle.

"It's beyond anything I would have imagined," she said.

Jacquez said she was driving her husband John Jacquez to his dialysis treatment last month when the pickup truck she was driving struck a deer on County Road 5500, totaling the vehicle.

As part of the Guardians of the Good fundraising effort, the auto dealership was contacted to see if it could help with getting Jacquez a new vehicle, according to Ziems general manager Matt Clugston.

The dealership inspected the vehicle before giving it to Michelle Jacquez, along with purchasing her new tires and installing a new battery.

"When you have an opportunity to give back to the community, you always give back to the community," Clugston said.

Jacquez intends to put the vehicle to good use, as she often travels to Albuquerque to help her mother and father, and she needed a vehicle to drive to work.

"I think it's great. I think it's fabulous," she said about the community response.

Steve Hebbe believes it was a good first year for the fundraising effort, which he plans to make an annual event.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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