SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A Sioux Falls woman will be heading into Veterans Day from behind the wheel of a brand-new minivan.

The Progressive Insurance Company presented her with the vehicle Thursday as part of a program honoring the service of veterans across the county. The gift is timely for this Navy veteran who’s been facing some recent transportation hardships.

Sandy Aiken was giving out smiles and hugs to her family inside the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance. But now it was time for Aiken, herself, to be on the receiving end of a gift… one that was too big to fit inside the building. So the crowd moved outside, in the cold, where Progressive Insurance presented Aiken with a 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan. Although Aiken’s grandkids were more excited about the free scooter and bike that came with the minivan.

“It’s okay. They’ll enjoy the van now that it’s getting cold outside,” Aiken said.

Aiken is a Navy veteran who served in Guam as a mess specialist from 1983 to 1990. She’s worked for the last 21 years at the Sioux Falls VA, in accounts receivable. But she’s been without a vehicle of her own for the last three months.

“The engine went out on my Pathfinder that I have and it’s very expensive to replace an engine, very expensive. It was over $8-thousand to replace the engine in that Pathfinder,” Aiken said.

“We wanted to give Sandy a minivan just because we wanted to make sure she had enough room for her, her daughters and grandkids so that they’re able to get around,” Progressive Insurance Claims Manager Craig Harskamp said.

Aiken says she’s been getting by, by walking a lot and taking the taxi. But now, this self-described grandma taxi driver is back in business.

“I’m a grandma taxi, yes and I don’t mind it one bit,” Aiken said.

Aiken says the gift from Progressive is an example of the strong local support for those who’ve served their country. She says she’s overwhelmed by the generosity from a community that goes the extra mile for veterans like her to enjoy the ride.

Progressive bought the minivan from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Enterprise will pay Aiken’s car insurance for the first six months.