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Matt Belin sits in his 2013 Ford Escape at Dahl Ford in Davenport on Thursday.

Navy veteran Matt Belin is used to cold weather. Without his own car, he's been standing at bus stops in rain and snow for a ride to grocery shop and run errands.

Now, he has his own wheels.

Dahl Ford was one of 65 locations participating in Progressive’s Keys to Progress on Thursday, in anticipation of Veterans Day on Sunday. Belin, a Des Moines resident, was selected to receive a free 2013 Ford Escape refurbished by the Davenport dealership.

“Progressive approached (Dahl Ford) and wanted to see if we wanted to be partners on the Keys to Progress event,” dealership owner KV Dahl said. “They located the vehicle and purchased it, and the dealership donated a lot of the parts and our guys donated their time to fix the vehicle, from the body guys, to the service department guys, to our detail department. Really, it was a dealership-wide project to get this thing ready to go and looking as good as it does. … It looks fantastic; it looks like a 2018.”

The program was launched by Progressive, an insurance company in 2013, to get reliable transportation to military veterans. More than 600 vets have been given cars since. 

Belin served in the Navy from 1990 to 1994, when he was honorably discharged. He had applied to be a recipient last year, but was not selected and applied again this year.

“I was appreciative that it went to a veteran that was in need (last year), but to get it the second time around ... it’s still kind of unbelievable,” Belin said. “It probably won’t sink in until I park it at home. I haven’t had a vehicle in a while, and it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. I’ll take care of it.”

In addition to the car, Belin received checks to pay for his December and January rent, a 12-month protection program and gift cards to Target, Pep Boys, Buffalo Wild Wings and other stores and restaurants. In total, $5,000 in checks and cards were gifted.

“Everything is impacted” by not having a vehicle, Belin said.

“Being dependent on mass transit, you can only carry enough food that’s on your back,” he said. “In this weather, too, all last year I was standing in this weather waiting for the bus. It’s going to be excellent.”

Dahl said he and his team are very proud to have been a part of the event and helping Belin “live the life he wants to live.”

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