La PORTE — As the nation grapples with a pandemic on a scale never experienced in living memory, the role that doctors, nurses and first responders play in the community is more vital than ever.

And it’s why unexpected car problems are more devastating than ever, as well.

Fortunately, the staff of Cannon’s Automotive Service is stepping up to make sure those on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 can get back on the road and in the workplace as quickly as possible.

The La Porte auto shop is currently offering its labor services for repairs, free of charge, to anyone related to the emergency response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This group includes health care workers, police officers, firefighters and government employees who are critical to keeping essential operations running.

Cannon’s Auto owner Eric Smith said he and his team decided to offer the gesture after one of his employees asked him what the shop could do to help provide some relief to the La Porte community. Like everywhere else across America, the city’s families are feeling the effects of business closings, self-quarantines and increasing strain on area hospital systems due to the pandemic.

Recognizing the tremendous sacrifice that health care professionals and first responders are making to care for others in the community, Smith and his staff decided to offer them the thing their most valuable possession – their experience and expertise in auto repair. That way, these individuals can focus on their jobs rather than how they’re going to get back and forth to work.

“They can’t press a pause button,” Smith said. “They have to keep on going.”

Smith, who also owns La Porte’s Condon and Christ Automotive, is looking at other ways to serve the community during this time of never-before-seen crisis. The business owner recently spoke with Mayor Tom Dermody, offering his business’ service in case the city needed any help servicing its fleet, he said.

“We’re gifted at fixing cars,” Smith said. “This is our sliver of help we can put out there.”

The gesture is the latest way that Cannon’s Auto has given back to the La Porte community since founder John Cannon established the business in 1971.

In 2010, Cannon and his team raised $32,000 for the La Porte Red Cross, offering free oil and filter changes to customers who donated $32 or more to the cause.

Since Cannon sold the business to Eric Smith and John Alexander in 2014, the shop has carried on that charitable spirit, donating $10,000 to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force in 2018 and creating an endowment fund with the Unity Foundation of La Porte County last year to help with local causes, Smith said.

Generosity is a part of the company’s culture, as every employee recognizes that, at some point, everyone needs a bit of a hand – especially during this current crisis, Smith said.

“We look at this job as an opportunity to be able to serve,” he said. “To walk into a workplace with that kind of feeling every morning is awesome.”

Local emergency workers who need assistance with car repairs can call Cannon’s Auto at (219) 362-4415 or Condon & Christ (219) 362-2728.

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