LUMBERTON — Evelyn Cruz has a new lucky number — and a new ride.
The Robeson County Department of Social Services worker walked away with a 2015 Nissan Sentra from Terry Chapin Nissan after choosing the 7 ball during the United Way of Robeson County’s Fair Share Giver Car Giveaway finale on Thursday, besting 29 other finalists.
The timing was right.
“This is great,” Cruz said. “Fantastic. My car is sitting in my driveway needing a battery.”
Cruz was the last one standing after a suspenseful reverse drawing at Biggs Park Mall. Twenty-four finalists selected during the three-month campaign as well as six more added Thursday night chose a numbered ball from the golden barrel before representatives from participating dealerships eliminated finalists one by one by selecting numbers.
Cruz’s co-worker at Social Services, Marchelie Massey, was the runner-up. Thanks to partnerships with Biggs Park Mall and local businesses, the 29 finalists who didn’t win the car received a consolation prize.
Cruz found out she owns the dark gray Nissan after opening an envelope she picked from six, each containing the make and model of a car from the participating dealerships — Lumberton Chevrolet, Peterson Toyota, Lumberton Kia, Fair Bluff Ford and Lumberton Honda.
The Nissan, which starts at a list price of more than $20,000, gets 39 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 miles per gallon in the city. Cruz said she had been scoping out the cars before the reverse drawing began — and that she had liked to look of the Nissan.
Cruz was eligible for the drawing because she donated her “fair share” to United Way, which is at least one hour’s pay a month. She said she has been donating to the United Way for 21 years.
Overall, there were about 2,000 Fair Share Givers this year.
Sandra Oliver, who recently retired as executive director of United Way of Robeson County, said that United Way of Robeson County has more dealership participants in the car giveaway than any other United Way chapter in North Carolina.
After the 10th annual giveaway, Oliver passed the baton to Latricia Freeman, the new executive director of United Way of Robeson County.
“I’ll always be involved in United Way some way or another,” said Oliver. “I’m not disappearing because, once it gets in your blood, you just can’t give it up.”
Freeman said the current campaign,which has a goal of $650,000, is continuing, with the agency still waiting to hear from some local industries.
“It was exciting because I love to see people invest in their community,” Freeman said. “When people give to us and support United Way, they are giving an hours worth of their paycheck each month. By doing that, they do a lot for our community.”
Gabrielle can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.