The Quincy location of VERC Car Rental is pictured Jan. 14. The South Shore car rental company is offering free use of 15 passenger vans for groups traveling to the March for Life in Washington D.C. Jan. 21-22. Pilot photo/Christine M. Williams
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Any group traveling to the March for Life in Washington DC next week can get there for just the cost of gasoline. VERC Car Rental, a family-owned small business on the South Shore, is offering free rentals of their fleet of 15-passenger vans.
"It's a small gesture on our part but a big gesture for those people who give up a couple of days to go down there and march in the cold. We're happy to support it," said VERC owner Jack Vercollone.
Three years ago he realized that the vans -- usually parked in a lot on winter weekdays -- could be driven by people traveling to the March for Life. He attributes the idea to divine inspiration.
"We've got the vans," he said. "This is something we can do. God put us in this position."
As of press time, there were still more than a dozen 15-passenger vans available to anyone traveling to the March on Jan. 22. The vans can be picked up from any of VERC's seven locations in Marshfield, Middleborough, Norwell, Plymouth, Quincy, Rockland and Weymouth on Tuesday. Individuals should return the vans by Friday evening.
"I would hope we'd get them all out," Vercollone said.
VERC has made a similar offer the past two years. In 2013, for the march's 40th anniversary, the cost was $40. The following year it was $41. This year the rental is free, though insurance is not included.
Most of the groups that take advantage of the offer are worship communities or other pro-life organizations.
Vercollone, a Catholic and father of 11, said he and his family are pro-life and appreciate that the Catholic Church continues to faithfully proclaim the sanctity of life in the womb.
VERC has been in business for 35 years, and Jack Vercollone inherited the business from his father and brothers. Currently, the company has anywhere from 300-400 vehicles at any given time. The demand for 15-passenger vans is especially seasonal; they get the most use during school vacations. Since the vans would otherwise stay parked on the lot, the company sacrifices only a little wear and tear on the vehicles, Vercollone said.
He gives a "tremendous amount of credit" to all the people who are putting the effort into attending the march this year. Vercollone himself has attended several times over the last few years.
"Because it's so cold and so hard, and it's so uncomfortable to be there -- that's what makes it such a great event. It takes a little bit of struggle. It takes a little bit of effort," he said.
He said he is glad he attended and marched with a huge crowd of like-minded people. "It's a wonderful spirit. For such a serious event, there's a lot of joy."
Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said that the March for Life is about witnessing and lobbying legislators -- and there's no place better than the nation's capital to do that. The experience of actually being there stays with people and encourages them to continue to speak up for the unborn.
She added that every pro-lifer has something to offer to the movement. She is glad to see Vercollone offer what he has through his business.
"The Vercollones are always very generous on the life issues, and this is another example of that. On behalf of all pro-lifers who would like to go to DC, we're very grateful," she said.
Groups interested in a free van rental can call Jack Vercollone at 508-732-5010.