A Hillsborough woman was surprised on her lunch break today with a new car, paid for by UNC business students and social entrepreneurs.

Dawn Sheppard walked to the parking lot of Carol Woods Retire Community and was greeted by a host of friends, members of the Community Empowerment Fund and a gold Chevrolet Malibu.

Sheppard became immediately emotional, and began praising God as Jim Kitchen handed her a new set of keys.

“I’m just so excited, I’m very excited,” Sheppard said with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face.

Kitchen, a social entrepreneur and instructor of Entrepreneurship & Business Planning at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, teamed up with the Community Empowerment Fund to select Dawn Sheppard as the second recipient this year of a new car. The first giveaway was also in collaboration with CEF and was done in May.

“She has really gone through a lot of things in her life and she is in a transition in her life and we thought that some reliable transportation to and from work is so important to her; that’s why we’re here today,” Kitchen said.

The CEF nominated Sheppard as a deserving recipient and teamed up with Kitchen and his business students to purchase a car from Mark Jacobson Toyota. Through their Trade-Up project, students traded koozies for more valuable items, and then sold those items to raise $5,000 for Sheppard’s new car.

Kitchen and his students also made sure the car came with $500 credit at a local garage for any maintenance needs Sheppard may have in the coming months.

Sheppard has been involved with the Community Empowerment Fund since moving out of the women’s shelter in 2011. She has battled homelessness for years and says her new car is a blessing.

“I don’t have to worry about keeping up the maintenance,” Sheppard said. “It’ll make life a lot easier.”

To help sponsor a Saver or donate to the Community Empowerment Fund of Chapel Hill, visit http://www.communityempowermentfund.org/

If you have a reliable car that you are willing to donate to someone in significant need, contact Jim Kitchen at jim@jimkitchen.org