Commitment to help others drives Vidalia business owner

By: Kimberly Petty on October 16th, 2018

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Commitment to help others drives Vidalia business owner

Cingo News  |  Community  |  Circle & Shield

We are proud to honor Junior Elkhatib with Cingo’s Circle & Shield Award for his tireless efforts raising money for those in need. Junior’s dedication to the safety and security of his community is truly inspiring.

Cingo's Circle & Shield

On any given weekend, Junior Elkhatib can be found riding his motorcycle for causes that are helping people in and around Vidalia, GA, be safe and secure.

In just the past four years, his rides and other fundraisers have helped more than 80 families, including some that lost their homes to fire and others who faced food and housing insecurity due to mounting medical bills.

“Rain, sleet or shine, we won’t stop. I feel like I was born to help others,” says Junior. “It’s wonderful to see the effect on an individual when they witness strangers giving to them. And we’re not a rich community. We’re all just doing what we can.”

Four years ago, it was life-changing help for Mariella Villa. As a teenager with terminal leukemia, she was one of five children of a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. The family’s home needed significant repairs — the floor was rotting, it had pest problems, and black mold had taken hold in the bathroom.

Junior and his team of volunteers stepped in to rebuild the home and paid off the mortgage. Miraculously, Mariella survived and is now in remission. Now in her 20's, she travels the country giving talks about her experience. Junior says she is his inspiration to keep going.

Junior has a love for hot rods and credits them for keeping him out of trouble when he was younger. He decided to expand on his passion by starting a fundraiser in 2014 with co-founder, Andy Clarke, called Cruise-in for a Cause, which he hosts the first Saturday of every month. The shows are fundraisers for anyone in the community who needs help.

Junior has raised about $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Every penny of the proceeds goes straight to the individual or family in need. Most beneficiaries come through referrals, and all are carefully vetted.

Cruise-in for a Cause registration is free, and donations are solicited for the designated cause of the week. Junior and his volunteers work to solicit community sponsors, sell raffle tickets and desserts, and will do about anything to get people to donate.

“I make goofy incentives to raise more money — like putting on a tutu for the crowd,” says Junior. “I want to raise money but also make the event fun for everyone.”

For more information about upcoming Cruise-in for a Cause events, click here.

 

About Circle & Shield

Cingo means to surround and secure — to protect. That’s what we do. And we have a lot of respect for those who take it upon themselves to make protection a part of what they do, too. That’s why we’ve launched Circle & Shield, our award to a member of the community who helps make the world a better place, a safer place.

Click here to nominate someone for Cingo’s Circle & Shield. We'll do the rest.

About Kimberly Petty

Director of Content Development, Cindy Miller Communications