Montana State University Billings City College students in the automobile collision repair and refinishing technology program recently finished painting a van for a local church. The vehicle was presented to members of the congregation on December 13. 

Instructor Steven Wodrich was approached by John Farnes, pastor at Family Church in Laurel, about this project. Refinishing the van’s exterior would give Wodrich’s students hands-on experience and provide a great service to the church, as they did not charge for any of their work.

In the auto body lab, the students disassembled the van and sanded it down. They removed dents from the body of the vehicle before priming for the new paint. The bumpers, running boards, and wheels were all also refinished by the students during the month-long project.

Thanks to donations from Denny Menholt Chevrolet and American Auto Body toward paint, the auto body students were able to refinish the vehicle’s exterior at no additional cost. U-Pol Products also donated supplies toward the exterior changes on the vehicle. Clearview Auto Glass donated a new windshield and Northland Auto and Truck donated mud guards. As the students had not worked on custom paint jobs yet, Auto Trim Design donated their time to add the church’s logo to its exterior.

“This has been a good learning experience for our students,” says Wodrich. “It’s also given them the opportunity to give back to the community and support a local church that works hard to help those in need.”

This spring, students will take part in the third Recycled Ride project, where they will take in a wrecked vehicle, fix the damages with donated parts and materials, and present it to a local family in need. This project will be completed in April of 2022.

An old joke tells of an economist, a chemist, and a physicist who are stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat except a can of beans they cannot open. When the chemist and physicist fail to devise workable solutions, the economist says, “Assume we have a can opener.”


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