San Diego woman gets two Christmas surprises

Posted at 11:44 PM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 02:44:58-05

After being pulled over by an officer last week - Donna Todd thought her life was over. 

She was in a vehicle that she admits should not be on the road - bald tired, missing back window and a loose front end. 

But, it was her only option if she wanted to get to work. 

"I needed to go to work...there was just no ifs ands or buts about it. I had to contribute to my home or we're not gonna have a home," Todd said. "I thought, you know, when the money came in I could fix my car."

But when Escondido Police Department Sergeant Craig Miller pulled Todd over - he didn't give her a ticket. He gave her $100 cash. 

Escondido police spread cheer to community

10News first shared the story about the program that's allowed the department to start the donations on Monday night. The program started three years ago, with an anonymous donor. There are now numerous donors that contribute through the Escondido Charitable Foundation. 


For Todd, the $100 bill started a streak of Goodwill.

Lael Leone, the owner of Lael's International Auto Services in Oceanside, jumped at the chance to help Todd fix her car. When AAA asked him to repair her vehicle for free, he went a step further and got her a rental car while he revamped her 1999 Dodge Durango.

“I just need this for a couple days to do my thing,” Leone said. "It has a lateral movement that shouldn't be there. That's due to a bad wheel bearing."

Leone says the vehicle also has broken windows, bad breaks, worn tires, and is leaking oil.

"It's very unsafe," he said. "Very unsafe."

He promises in a couple of days, Todd will be driving safely again.

"We'd like to make a difference in this lady's life," he said. 

Shortly before our story on Leone's kindness aired at 11 p.m., Todd texted 10News reporter Bree Steffen expressing her gratitude for Leone. 

"We ended up spending about 90 minutes at the shop with Lael. What a wonderful person. He spoke with my younger son about the meaning of life and about helping with other things in our lives," Todd said. "I'm very humbled by this experience and just in awe in meeting another awesome person. Just WOW."