Workbenches for Veterans

DIMOCK TOWNSHIP -- Students at a trade school in Susquehanna County were given the task of building some very special benches for some very special veterans.

At the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center near Montrose, students are fine-tuning their carpentry craft.

Recently, a group of students has been working on a project that has a greater purpose -- constructing six new workbenches that will be donated to "Hunts for Healing," a nonprofit organization near Laceyville that assists post 9/11 wounded combat veterans.

"What the school did here for us is they built these workbenches for an upcoming event that we have next week. We're doing a build a gun event, where they build a custom flintlock rifle, so they're going to use this bench to mount the vises on them, their tools, and they're going to build the guns on it," explained Ethan Demi of Hunts for Healing.

"You're building the gun. You have a start and a completion, so you have something you've actually worked on. You're putting sweat and labor in, so it's really therapeutic, and it kind of gets your mind off the dark places it can sometimes go to," said veteran Randall Jones.

For some students, this serves as their end of the year project for "Skills USA," a membership organization for students who are preparing for careers in the trade industry. In April, they'll present this community service effort to a panel of judges.

"It felt really good because a lot of these veterans are in danger of committing suicide," said senior David Jenner. "This foundation helps a lot of them by taking them out on hunts and shoots and everything. By building these workbenches, it gave them a place to make these guns, build knives and turkey calls. It gave them a space and equipment they need to do that."

And these workbenches were designed to be multipurpose workbenches. They're also very compact, so they can be taken apart easily and stashed away for future use.

"Materials were supplied by the Community Foundation, which is a local group here, and the students did the building, the screwing, and cutting. They're easy to stack and easy to store," said carpentry instructor Bruce Castelli.

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