ASHLAND -- A disabled veteran in Schuylkill County got home from work Wednesday night with an easier way to get inside. Employees at the Home Depot in St. Clair volunteered their time and resources to build a ramp for the veteran who has been in a wheelchair since December.
Since 2011, Home Depot has given $180 million to veteran-related causes like installing ramps, fixing fences, or building homes from scratch through the Home Depot Foundation. Employees at the St. Clair location do about three or four of these projects a year. Wednesday's was their first this year.
"Why? He's a veteran. He's a human being. He needs help," said Charlie Chiao, a volunteer and veteran himself.
The rain held off long enough for the army of volunteers to spend the day building the ramp for the veteran who lives in Ashland.
"Taking care of vets putting their lives on the lines for us. As they get older and have more needs, they need to know we're there for them as the Home Depot. That's what we do," said St. Clair Home Depot Store Manager Matthew Stufflet.
David Deresky is the Pro Department Supervisor at the St. Clair Home Depot. When he noticed a customer who he has known for years was struggling getting through the aisles, he told him about the Home Depot Foundation.
"You're actually giving back to the people who gave their lives for us. It makes you warm and fuzzy inside," Seresky said.
Chiao served in Vietnam. When he heard what Home Depot was doing, he volunteered to tag along.
"If I can spend an hour or two helping a fellow vet, here I am," Chiao.
Before today, the home had concrete steps that were falling apart. Something that needed to be changed when the homeowner broke his foot in December.
Home Depot workers did yard work too, replacing mulch and planting flowers. They say they wanted to do anything that could help until the homeowner recovers from his surgery.
"We try to do a little bit of curb appeal as well. Not just come in and knock it out and be done with it. We want to leave the house looking better than when we started with it," Stufflet said.
When the Home Depot corporation approves a project, it grants the local store with a gift card for how much money they'll need. Workers then buy all of the materials right from their store.
"We're on our day off. We're giving up our own time to do this. To see everyone come together and show the teamwork, it's a great feeling," Seresky explained.
The ramp built Wednesday is temporary. If the homeowner wants to remove it once he recovers from his surgery, he will be able to. They also replaced the front steps that were falling apart.