KUSA - A single father living on the Eastern Plains got an early Christmas gift this year from a stranger paying it forward.
A mechanic in Strasburg wauived the $1,500 repair cost when he found out the father struggled to provide for his son.
For the first time in 11 years, Cory Grimes will spend this Christmas at home in Colorado. He moved in with his sister and brother-in-law in June after more than a decade in Iowa.
Life's been rough for the single father who cares for his son with autism and works part-time as a dish washer at High Plains Diner in Bennett.
"I've got to do the prep, wash the dishes, and make sure everything gets put away properly," said Grimes in the kitchen of the restaurant.
Every paycheck is quickly spent on bills but he saved up some money to buy a used minivan from a neighbor. She sold it to him for $400 to help him get back on his feet.
The van needed work and he tried to fix it himself with help from his brother-in-law.
"Pulled parts of the transmission down and pieces kind of fell out and we didn't know what to do," Grimes said.
He took the car to Chris Oakley at C&T Auto, who fixed the transmission. The price for parts and labor totaled around $1,500.
After hearing Grime's story, the mechanic decided something early on.
"It was his. Free to go," Oakley said.
The mechanic didn't charge for the repairs.
"What he did was awesome. I never was expecting something like that before," said Grimes with tears in his eyes.
The early Christmas gift was a big help for a man struggling to get by.
"He's trying to make ends meet out of nothing. And I just thought, you know what, after you tell me that, there's no use in charging somebody that that doesn't have the money," Oakley said.
It took five months for Grimes save enough money to pay the repair bill and he didn't know he'd be able to keep the cash, until he showed up at the shop.
"Went there with the cash in hand ready to go and they said no they didn't want my money and Merry Christmas," he said.
He left with a working van, $1,500 and a full tank of gas. It's a gift from a stranger Grimes will never forget.
"Now I have money for Christmas. I can buy stuff for my son," Grimes said while looking at his 7-year-old Jordan.
He said the money he saved will not only pay for gifts, but help him with getting a place of his own.
(© 2015 KUSA)