On frigid winter mornings, the kind that make your fingers ache, Jo Deibel would put the key in the ignition of her pickup truck and pray.
If the rusted, 22-year-old jalopy turned over, the founder of Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue would breath a sigh of relief, get into gear and motor toward the horses whose lives depended on her.
Some days, she pointed the truck toward an auction house where she would purchase slaughter-bound horses, load them into the trailer, and haul them back to their new home on her farm. Other days, she’d pile the truck high with hay, grain, and myriad supplies to keep her orphans in good health.
Every year it has become a little harder for the old truck, with this last year running her thousands of dollars in repairs: “It needed new tires, new brakes, and a new alignment,” she says, ticking off a list of expenses.
But this winter will be different: this year, Deibel will climb behind the wheel of a new Toyota Tundra!
Deibel’s horse haven won the brand new auto in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest, by garnering the greatest number of votes in an online Facebook poll. Each day, Toyota profiled five charities that had entered the contest, and asked voters on Facebook to choose a winner.
Contestants were selected by Toyota in a detailed application process that took into account how the new truck might benefit their charity. Then Toyota ran a daily listing of the five finalists on its Facebook page, asking voters to choose who should win. In this manner, Toyota gave away 100 trucks in 100 days.
Aug. 3 was Angel Acres day, and Deibel rose early. From 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., she sat at her computer and typed notes to Facebook friends, family, and supporters seeking votes.
“We won with 42 percent of the vote!” she says.
Fran Burns, stalwart volunteer, and true believer, admits she was pretty amazed.
“When Jo called me and said there was this contest and Toyota was giving away a Tundra, I just kind of rolled my eyes because I couldn’t believe we could really win it,” she admits. “But Jo Deibel is one of the most proactive individuals I know, and she’s amazing when it comes to social media.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving of a lucky break like this, she adds.
“She’s been in desperate need of a new truck for a long time,” Burns says. “She uses it for everything. She moves hay and straw and equipment with it. She hauls horses with it” and everything else a working farm requires.
Deibel founded the 501(c) 3 nonprofit shortly after learning that her own adopted horse had been at risk for slaughter. Based in Glenville, PA, the nonprofit has helped some 500 at-risk horses find new homes.
A big part of that effort involves driving 60 miles to Lancaster County, where she purchases horses from meat buyers, and drives them back to her farm for quarantine, veterinary exams, treatment, and eventually re-training for next careers.
So her new Toyota Tundra four-wheel drive with tow package, will add a tremendous measure of reliability that has been missing for so long.
“We’re going to save a ton of money in repair costs,” Deibel says, noting with a laugh: “My old truck has started everyday since we found out we won.”