LIMA — The love affair with cars most likely dates back to his father's 1941 Buick; he always wanted to back it out of the driveway.
The love of helping dates back just as long. Andy Maravola credits his parents with instilling in him a desire to show appreciation for his good life by giving, always.
Maravola is a Jefferson Award winner this year for his creation of a charity car show. The show is now 5 years old and has raised more than $10,000 for local charities. Maravola also served as chair of the CIAO Pasta Dinner for a decade and volunteers at St. Rita's Medical Center.
The Jefferson Awards for Public Service recognize eight local winners for their volunteerism in the community, with each getting $350 for their organization. They're sponsored by the Husky Lima Refinery, The Lima News, Your Hometown Stations and the United Way of Greater Lima. One local winner will be announced at an event Tuesday at the City Club in downtown Lima as the area's representative to the national awards celebration in Washington, D.C., and the recipient of an additional $700 for the organization.
This year, Maravola's car show will be held June 29 at Westgate Entertainment Center. Half the funds always go to Andy Johnson, at Westgate, to use for his annual Christmas party for children. The other half goes to a new charity each year. This year it is the Humane Society of Allen County. In the past, Lima Senior High School Band, Simon Youth Foundation, Angels for Animals, Equestrian Therapy, D.A.R.E. and veterans organizations have all benefited from funds raised by the show.
The cars are fun: Maravola himself owns a 1991 Camaro that gleamed recently in the mid-March sunlight the first time it was out of the garage and out of the cover. But, they're a means to an end.
“What I like is giving the money away,” he said.
And the people who bring their cars and attend the show feel the same way.
“I love attending car shows and I make it a point to drive over every year from Van Wert to check out this one,” Steve Mack, of Van Wert, said. “That Andy, he does it right. He's there thanking you for attending, when in fact, we should be thanking him for putting on such a neat event. The thing that impresses me most is that every nickel raised goes to charity. Every cent. The guy just has a heart of gold.”
Maravola moved to Lima from Youngstown in 1984, taking a job with Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, formerly the Lima Tank Plant. He retired in 1994.
Cliff Barber, of the JSMC, first met Maravola through years of working together. Through years of friendship, Barber said he's witnessed Maravola's passion for helping the community.
“Andy's passion and dedication in helping the less fortunate in Lima comes through every time you speak with him,” Barber said in Maravola's Jefferson nomination. “Lima is fortunate to have this Youngstown transplant as a member of our community.”
Maravola thinks of his ancestors, who immigrated to the United States from Italy. He thinks of his parents, who raised him, and thinks of his wife, Elaine, with whom he shares his life. When he thinks of his cup running over, he thinks, how could he not help.
“Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. My parents are my heroes. And I love my land,” Maravola said. “I have a good life here.”