Raise your hand if you have a name for your car. Who of us doesn’t? Cars usually mean a lot to people, and to some more than others. Kevin Duke was excited to buy his daughter her very first car for her sweet sixteen birthday, but the letter he unintentionally found inside the glove compartment left him speechless. When he bought this second-hand car didn’t expect the journey that his new purchase would send him on – he knew that cars mean a lot to people and hoped this gift would mean the world to his daughter, but no one can anticipate finding a note like that in a car just purchased.
Our 16th birthday is an important milestone, and it deserves to be celebrated in a meaningful way. And what’s more meaningful, figured Kevin Duke, than receiving your very first car?
He proudly bought his daughter a second-hand Ford Fusion, hoping she would make as much use of it as its previous owners.
Taking it to a test drive
However, given that it was a second-hand car, Kevin wanted to make sure it was safe, and so he decided to give it a test drive.
The drive went smoothly, but it was only after that he found something alarming. Kevin decided he should look through the car to make sure his daughter was getting a clean, empty and fresh car.
A surprise in the glove compartment
To Kevin’s great surprise, hidden deep in a secret pocket in the glove compartment, almost as if it didn’t want to be found, was a letter.
It was addressed to “new car owner” and it read, “important info inside.” With no additional information on the envelope, Kevin’s curiosity was stirred.
The mysterious letter
Hidden in a secret nook in the glove compartment, it was clear that someone attempted to hide the letter but still wanted it to be found. The question was who wrote it and why.
Kevin started to read the letter, figuring that although the car is a gift for his daughter, technically he is the new car owner since he purchased it. He didn’t know what to expect from it, so to be on the safe side he preferred to read it himself.
Reading the letter
He had to muster some courage in order to start reading it, as this seemed like a highly irregular situation for Kevin.
Finally, he started reading, and the content of the letter took him by surprise. The letter was nothing like what he’d expected, and it took him by surprise.
Sharing her story
As he assumed, the letter was written by the previous car owner. It started, “this car holds a lot of special memories for me…” As he continued reading, the letter became more emotional and got a tragic turn.
The writer of the letter explained that the car used to belong to her mother, and after her tragic death, this is the only memory she has left of her.
Holding back the tears
She explained that she lost her house and her family, and this car was practically the only material belonging she had left.
Throughout the letter, she shared more about her life and what this car meant to her, and the picture became clearer as Kevin continued reading.
The mysterioss writer of the letter shared the many happy, as well as sad, memories her family accumulated in this car throughout the years – memories of endless road trips, music, chicken nuggets and diapers.
She wrote, “I just wanted to let you know what a special vehicle you’ve bought.” Kevin then started to realize how much this car meant to that person, and probably still does…
Who is she?
He then learned of the tragedy the writer of the letter had undergone. It read, “[my mother] and my daughter went out shopping and got their hair cut,” and how this was the last time her mother drove this car.
This letter left Kevin shaken and curious, so he decided to investigate the identity of the previous owner of the car.
He learned that the person who wrote the letter is Sabrina Archey. She experienced a tragedy and lost her mother, daughter and aunt in a house fire.
The accident left Sabrina with nothing – taking away her mother and daughter, the two most important people in her life.
She was heartbroken, but she still needed to attend to the funeral arrangements, which seemed to her like an impossible task after the tragedy she’s been through.
Sabrina received incredible support from her friends and community, but it wasn’t enough to comfort her loss, and it didn’t make up for the fact that she had to carry the load of the funerals all on her own.
Sabrina hadn’t just lost her family in this accident, but her house as well. She was left with nothing, emotionally and physically. The only thing she had left was her mother’s beloved car.
That’s when Kevin realized why this car had meant so much to Sabrina. It was literally the only this she had left in the world and the only reminder of her mother.
To show the massive support of the community for Sabrina, the school her daughter attended organized a charity event in her honor, where hundreds of kids released balloons to the sky.
The event was also meant to raise awareness in the community about the importance of active smoke detectors. Sabrina later said she hoped the event helped raise awareness, and that her family’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
Losing the link to her family
With no house and three funerals to afford all by herself, as much as she was reluctant to do it, Sabrina had no choice but to sell her mother’s car.
As she admitted in her letter, “it’s very upsetting that I have lost my family, my home and now I’m losing this last link I have with my mom and child.”
Wanting to help
Before reading this letter, Kevin never realized a car could mean so much to a person, but Sabrina shared in her letter how many cherished memories this car held and proved him wrong.
She asked for whoever buys the car to respect the memory of her family and take care of the car as she would have if she had the chance.
“Call her Sylvia”
She also mentioned that the car had a name – Sylvia. It was so much more than just another Ford Fusion, it’s as if this car was a practical member of the family.
Sabrina explained the story behind this name – the entire family was riding the car on the very first day her mom bought it, and the song “Sylvia Mother” came on the radio. That’s how Sabrina’s daughter got the idea to name the car Sylvia.
Sabrina had another idea as to how the new car owner can respect the memory of her family – in the letter she asked him to play country songs in it. She wrote, “Big Green Tractor was my daughter’s favorite song ever.”
Her letter wasn’t written in resentment, but she was genuine and simply wanted to share with the new car owner what a special vehicle he was getting. She ended it with, “I hope this car is the best car you’ve ever owned,” and that she hopes the backseat would be filled again with kids and toys.
Take good care of her
Lastly, Sabrina admitted she would still be happy to get her back someday. It’s only natural that she should miss the car that holds so many precious memories of her family.
She added in the letter that if the new owner ever wants to sell the car, he should look for her, and hopefully, in the future she might have enough money to buy it again.
How do you react to a letter like this? It left Kevin completely speechless and emotional. He thought he was buying a simple Ford Fusion for his daughter, but he never imagined it had such a tragic history attached to it.
He immediately knew that this car belonged with Sabrina and that the right thing for him to do was give it back to its rightful owner.
It wasn’t that simple, though, since Kevin had already given the car to his daughter. He wasn’t sure how she might react to the news, as he didn’t want to disappoint her.
But daughter Jada took the news with complete understanding and maturity that made Kevin the proudest father in the world. Jada read the letter as well and agreed with her father that the car belongs to Sabrina.
Giving it back to its rightful owner
She was just as heartbroken by Sabrina’s story as her father was, and the two knew they had to find Sabrina somehow and bring some joy into her life in these dark times.
Kevin figured the best way to reach her would be sharing the letter online, as social media is the best way to spread the word and reach as many people as possible. Somehow, somewhere, someone who knows Sabrina is bound to see this post.
Sure enough, as Kevin had hoped, the post became viral in no time. Luckily for both Kevin and Sabrina, the post reached Love What Matters, and after they shared it, it generated over 19,000 reactions.
But Kevin didn’t need thousands of people to see this, what he really needed was just one person who knows Sabrina that would be willing to help.
This person was Tammy Warrington. Tammy didn’t personally know Sabrina, but Kevin’s post and Sabrina’s tragedy touched her, and she decided she wanted to help. She realized that simply sharing the story on Facebook wasn’t enough, seeing as it already got thousands of shares.
Tammy did some research to find out where the fire had taken place and then tried to reach out to Kevin. But to her relief, she learned that he had already gotten in touch with Sabrina.
An emotional meeting
Kevin, Sabrina and Tammy all met to discuss the proceedings of returning the beloved car back to Sabrina. They worked out how to arrange all the necessary financial arrangements.
It was a very emotional moment for the three of them, yet a very happy one. With no intention, Sabrina touched the hearts of Kevin and Tammi, at the time complete strangers.
Rising to the cause
The three figured they needed $12,000 to replace the car and pay the necessary taxes to legally return it to Sabrina. Since Kevin’s initial post has gotten so much attention, they decided to create an online fundraiser for the purpose.
It only took a couple of days for their fundraiser to make over $3,500, and to their great surprise, an Australian TV network contacted Sabrina about the story, wanting to document it for the show This Is Life Live.
A happy reunion
Kevin didn’t forget about his daughter and set up another fundraiser to get the money to replace her car as well. He promised her a car for her birthday and didn’t intend on letting his daughter down.
Both fundraisers got incredible exposure and in no time, they had the money to reunite Sabrina with Sylvia and get a new car for Jada – so that everyone was happy. When Sabrina wrote the letter to the person that would buy her car, she never expected it to turn out this way. She was overwhelmed and grateful for Kevin, Tammy and all the people who helped her reunite with Sylvia.