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Car show to benefit Massachusetts tornado victims

Date: 6/21/2011

June 20, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW — All systems appear to be "Go" for a unique benefit for Western Massachusetts tornado victims.

Jeff DeMary has gotten support and approval from the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board to host the "Change the Wind" Car Show on July 9 at the site of LENOX and BluHomes Inc. on Chestnut Street to raise money for area families affected by the tornado.

"The town has been phenomenal. They have helped me hurdle so many hoops to make this happen," DeMary told Reminder Publications. "We're looking to help the people who are too proud to ask for help themselves."

DeMary, a Hampden resident, was not directly affected by the devastating whirlwind that roared through the area, but knew many in his immediate area and beyond who were.

"The tornado was a half mile from my house," he said. "I wanted to do something to help the victims directly."

DeMary's unique line of work gave him not only the concept, but a better idea of the means needed to make it work and he expects a strong turnout.

"Part of what I do is insure classic cars," he said. "[Classic car owners] are a group of people who still believe in the power of a handshake and helping a neighbor. I think a lot of them will find this to be a nice way to make some money for the victims."

DeMary said he expects somewhere between 200 and 300 cars from several decades to fill the LENOX parking lot as part of a day that will also feature food and refreshments. The Girl Scouts from Hampden will be selling water and soda with all proceeds also going to victims.

Anyone interested in showcasing their car need not register in advance, but should be prepared to pay a $10 entry fee. Spectators can expect to pay a $5 entry fee with a $10 price for families.

DeMary said the money will not go to a charity such as the Red Cross, but rather will be delivered personally to families selected to receive aid. A Web site is being created at which victims can quietly and confidentially request aid.

That Web site will be publicized on the Reminder Publications Facebook page as soon as it is launched.

A committee of four, including DeMary, will make the decisions on who will receive money. He said that by working in insurance, he knew who to talk to and what to look for when determining need.

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