Home Depot is currently in its second year of a three-year pledge to spend $50 million on community projects that will better the lives of veterans and their families. The company conducts roughly 1,000 projects a year on everything from landscaping at Veterans Association hospitals to retrofitting homes for wheelchair use.
The initiative, called “Celebration of Service,” begins on Sept. 11 and lasts through Veterans Day. As a result, Home Depot staff members at every location will be working on a project to help a family over the next couple weeks. All they had to do is find families to spend the money on.
Home Depot of Cedartown found the Cheatwoods.
Decades ago, Loraine Cheatwood found her family in a situation few can fathom. Her husband, Corporal Paul Cheatwood of the Marines, had returned from Vietnam, but with serious injuries.
For his service to our country, he was awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Navy Cross. The Navy Cross is the second highest military decoration for valor awarded to a member of the U.S. Navy, Marines or Coast Guard. It is the equivalent of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross, all of which are second only to the Medal of Honor.
When Cpl. Cheatwood returned to the states, he had injuries to his legs and elbow, which prevented him from operating a traditional wheelchair, so he used an electric one.
“When he came back,” Lorraine recalls, “the doctor asked me if I was ready for this. Now, I know what he meant.”
Lorraine said learning how to help her husband navigate through the house with his new chair was a challenge, as was learning new skills to properly care for him, so the fact the house was taking a few bumps and bruises was the least of her worries.
In February of this year, Cpl. Cheatwood passed away, and Lorraine was left with a new challenge: repairing all the “bumps and bruises” the house had received over the years.
“My plan was just to patch a hole here and patch a hole there until I could get it all done,” Loraine said. “You know, just do it as I could, because I didn’t have much of a budget for it.”
Enter Team Depot.
On a project the Cedartown Home Depot team has dubbed the “Purple Heart Project,” volunteers have come together at the Cheatwood home to repair several years of damage to floors, walls, cabinets ... even door frames.
“We are painting inside, putting down new flooring, new cabinets, new vanities, new light fixtures, new lights outside, and we’re going to build a deck out back,” said Co-Captain of Team Depot Kim Jacobs.
Jacobs and Co-Captain Christie Myers were on-hand Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Cheatwood home along with the rest of the volunteers from Home Depot, Cedartown as they got to work on their long list of projects they wanted to complete over a five-week period. The group also plans to do some landscaping out front and to replace water fixtures in the house.
“I’m so excited,” said Loraine. “I just know it’s going to look great when they’re finished.”
Myers said Team Depot is excited to see the finished project too, and they are glad they could help a local resident in need.
“This is just part of our Home Depot Core Values,” Myers said. “We want to get out and work in the community. We want the community to know that we want to be involved.”
Myers said that Home Depot also finds other ways to get involved, such as their partnership with KaBOOM, a non-profit organization that helps communities build playgrounds. According to Myers, Home Depot will also soon be starting similar programs to “Celebration of Service” centered around Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, and 9/11.
To find out more about Home Depot’s community service efforts, visit www.homedepot.com.