Home Depot volunteers improve Austin veteran's home

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 12 at 12:22 AM

AUSTIN -- One home improvement company is making life a little easier for disabled veterans across the country. 

Josh Kelly of South Austin has already been honored with the Silver Star for his service to this country, yet he and his wife say Tuesday's Home Depot Foundation Celebration of Service has inspired them to help other disabled veterans.

Mulching, raking and plenty of other landscaping and home improvement projects are just the kind of projects you would expect Home Depot employees to be doing. However, these tasks weren't occurring inside some home improvement warehouse. They took place at the South Austin home of disabled veteran Kelly.

"I could hear the beeps of the backup trucks," said Kelly. "I came to look out the window, and there were people with orange shirts everywhere and everyone with a smile."

Kelly, a U.S. Army medic, suffered extensive nerve damage in his right arm and shoulder in Afghanistan six years ago.  An Improvised explosive device detonated causing a Humvee to roll on top of him.  

The local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart got wind of Kelly's situation and nominated him for the Home Depot Foundation's Celebration of Service.

"Matching up guys like Josh with generous people who are trying to express their appreciation is certainly reward enough for us in the Purple Heart organization," said Milton Carr, with local chapter 19 of the MOPH.

From September 11th though Veterans Day, Home Depot employees are teaming up with non-profits all over the country to complete hundreds of service projects like this one.  

"Every time there is a slow moment and we are alone together, we just say, 'We can't believe this,'" said Kelly. "What is going on right now?"  

Volunteers built a wheelchair ramp in the back of the house and completed landscaping and painting projects.

"When these veterans have given up their life to serve their country, us coming out and doing some landscaping or building a wheelchair ramp is very minute," said Joe Wimberley, a Home Depot Foundation field manager. "It's the best way we can go out and really say 'thank you.'"  

"Amazing people, amazing people," said Amy Kelly, Josh's wife. "To know that there's people out there that just want to do whatever they can to help, it's inspiring."

"It's just incredible," said Josh Kelly. "The generosity and the kindness of everyone is mind blowing.  It's unbelievable."

Initially Home Depot made a $30 million commitment to the project, but it reached that goal within a year-and-a-half. Now the company has added another $50 million, meaning $80 million is now dedicated to improving the homes of economically disadvantaged veterans.

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