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Wheels of good fortune fill UNG campus at Secret Santa Car Show
Event displays 200 classics, helps Oakwoods needy children
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Chris Hartman looks at cars during the 2016 Secret Santa Car Show at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus. - photo by Erin O. Smith

People talking trucks and chatting cars filled the air Saturday afternoon at the Secret Santa Car Show in Oakwood.
Needy children in the area benefit from the show, with all of the day’s proceeds going to the Secret Santa Fund.

Community Care and Share Inc., a certified nonprofit, gets the names of the families from Oakwood elementary schools and through the Oakwood police department.

It is the second year the event was held at UNG and the seventh year of the show.

“It’s all anonymously,” said Sheri Millwood, a part-time real estate broker and Oakwood city councilwoman.

Millwood said toys, coats, pajamas and other items were given to children, as well as big black bags filled with wrapping paper, bows, scissors and other supplies.

“It’s so the parents can wrap the presents if they want to,” Millwood said.

Others were there just to daydream.

“I hope to have one of these one day,” Kelli Browning said as he eyed the Chevrolet trucks on display. “The old ones are (my favorite).”

She also brought her daughter, 7-year-old Sydney Foster, along for the ride. It was Sydney’s first car show, but her mom goes to them whenever she can.

“At first she was like, ‘Mom, I don’t wanna go,’ but then we got here and she’s been checking out the cars and liking it,” Browning said.

The Kishimotos were there to admire the vehicles. They were particularly intrigued by the Mustangs, since they own one.

“We just like looking at old cars,” Karen Kishimoto said.

The Gainesville couple are both alumni of the college and like to attend events at the campus.

Emily Garcia didn’t know what event was happening but just drove by.

“It just got my attention,” Garcia said. “I don’t really know anything about (cars) but I like looking at them.”

The event was bigger than ever this year, with about 240 vintage, classic and luxury vehicles. In past years, there were fewer than 200.

“We were just over the moon about it,” Millwood said.

Millwood pinpointed a few factors that could explain the increase in participation: The unseasonably warm weather, and little competition from other big events in the area.

“It’s a labor of love,” Millwood said. “We will start planning next year’s (car show) next week.”

They also added about 10 more categories to the list of existing trophies and introduced new activities for kids, including get free face painting and bounce houses.

“We added a trick-or-treating element this year,” Millwood said.

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