Ronnie Parris, owner of ABC Autoplex, helped Ashley Lindsey of Winnsboro, pregnant wife of Army Sgt. James Lindsey who is slated for a third tour in the Middle East later this year, obtain a car to get her and the Lindsey's 7-month-old son Matthew to doctors appointments. The American Red Cross Military Resource Center awarded the family a $5,000 grant to help with the purchase. Parris, upon learning of the need decided to further assist Ashley, donating the remaining cost and putting her in a Mitsubishi Montero Sport this week.
Staff Photo By Sarah Yosten

ABC Autoplex helps Red Cross get SUV for soldier's wife

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

August 8, 2008 - A Winnsboro soldier's wife is driving around in a new vehicle, thanks to the American Red Cross Military Resource Center and Ronnie Parris ABC Autoplex.

When James Lindsey, son of David and Laura Lindsey, enlisted in the Army in 2001, neither he nor his family had any way of knowing the full extent of hardships they would face. Later this year, Sgt. Lindsey will deploy for his third tour, likely back to Iraq. So far he's served in Baghdad and Afghanistan.

His wife, Ashley, is glad he's been able to stay stateside this long. He'd originally been told he'd have to ship out after Mother's Day, then that he'd have to leave at the end of last year. He's currently still in Fort Hood, but is expected to transfer to another facility soon. In fact, he was recently told he'd have to ship out this month. The most recent plans include him leaving in October.

While he's away from home, his family has had to learn to cope on their own. That means finding ways to make ends meet between pay-checks and Lindsey's returns home to Winnsboro.

One of the many hardships Ashley has encountered is finding someone to get her and 7-month-old Matthew back and forth to doctor visits -- she's expecting again in December. Her parents, Scott and Terri Lorance, have been helping out where they can, but with a small child not having a vehicle is restricting.

That's where the Red Cross Military Resource Center and Ronnie Parris ABC Autoplex came in. They learned Sgt. Lindsey is slated to deploy soon, leaving his wife without transportation.

The military resource center provides a bevy of assistance for service personnel who have or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families. The sole purpose of the RCMRC is to ensure they receive the help they need when they need it, whether it's counseling, financial assistance, transportation or others needs. The service personnel who receive counseling do so at no cost to themselves, and don't have to worry about the information being included in their military files and negatively impacting promotions. The center doesn't report the services to the military, just makes sure they are available.

Assisting the families is also an important mission of the RCMRC, providing many of the services military wives, sisters, children, parents and other family members need but don't have access the way on-site military families would. Because the members are so scattered throughout the area, the need is even greater in this portion of Texas, where the nearest facility for guardsmen is Paris, according to Choya Shanahan, director of the Smith county Chapter of American Red Cross Military Resource Center.

Thanks to a $200 million grant from a California woman, the ARCMRC is able to offer services and help provide for military families and personnel. The funding was awarded this year, and more promised for next year. However, because of they have the greatest number deployed or enlisted, the funds are earmarked strictly for Texas and California service personnel who have or are serving in Iraq or Baghdad and their families. The funds are awarded as TRIAD grants.

Ashley Lindsey has been receiving counseling to help her deal with her husband's absence and constant worry over his safety during deployments. The ARCMRC was made aware she's in need of a reliable vehicle of her own. They were able to give her $5,000 to get some wheels. Ronnie Parris, owner of ABC Autoplex, heard that Ashley was getting some funding, but wanted to take it a step further and "give back" to the young man who time and again puts his life on the line for his country. He talked to Shanahan and together, they were able to put Sgt. Lindsey's wife in a Montero Sport, according to Parris.

"He's one of our hometown heroes helping heroes," Shanahan said of Parris. "We help them, but have a funds cap. He has a lot in it."

And not only did Parris help with the vehicle, due to an unexpected person emergency which prevented Shanahan from arriving in Sulphur Springs a few days sooner to give the Red Cross check to Parris, he allowed the young mother to drive the car away anyway so Ashley and her family would have it to use as soon as possible, Shanahan praised.

The American Red Cross Smith County Chapter Military Resource Center said with the large number of enlisted personnel, reserves and families in the area, gestures such as Parris' are a big deal. Just as churches and others donations of gift cards to grocery stores and shopping centers are a tremendous help to the military families. Those and other donations may be made by contacting Shanahan at 903-581-7961.

Any military personnel serving or who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan or their families can contact the American Red Cross Military Resource Center, Smith County Chapter which serves this area, for assistance. For more information about the Tyler ARC, go online to: www.smithcounty.redcross.org.

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