Joseph and Joyce Tippets had 40 cars behind their West Haven home, stuck in the mud.
They had until March 1 to remove them or face hundreds of dollars in fines.The retired couple's plight was a dream come true for the National Kidney Foundation of Utah, which raises money to help kidney dialysis and transplant patients through the sale or recycling of donated cars and boats. In exchange, the cars are towed for free and those who donate can write off the fair-market value of the vehicles on their taxes.
In all, 19 of the Tippets' cars have been donated to the foundation, including some collectibles like a World War II Willys Jeep and two DeSotos. The Tippets' donation is the largest single contribution in the program's seven-year history, said program manager Luz Lewis-Perez.
The couple had collected the cars in the decades since Joseph Tippets first got a dealer's license in 1950. He owned Tippets Brothers and later Boulevard Auto.
The couple received a letter from city officials earlier this year that by March 1 they had to remove cars that wouldn't run or they'd be fined.
"We always liked cars," Tippets said. "We live in kind of a bog area out here and have cars we've had for 20 or 25 years in the family. I didn't know what to do."
The couple called tow companies, Lewis-Perez said, but paying to have 40 cars towed out of the mud was an option they couldn't afford. The couple used their own truck to haul 17 of the cars to a salvage yard before their granddaughter, Dawn Wright, told them about the foundation.
The city gave the Tippets an extension. Seven of their cars were pulled out of the mud Wednesday morning and towed by Rick Gunn and his business, Cartow of Salt Lake. Over the next few weeks the remaining 12 cars will be towed.
"It's been a real nice deal for us," Tippets said. "I sure hope somebody gets some good use out of the cars."
To give cars or boats to the foundation, the owner must have the title and the cars must have wheels and an engine. They don't have to run. Many people also donate cars in good condition they can't get the value out of on a trade-in or sale, Lewis-Perez said.
Last year, the foundation raised $280,000 through its car donation program. For more information on the program, call 1-800-869-5277.