Thanks in part to a sizable donation from a local Home Depot, one man from central Texas is overwhelmed with the support he’s received in his endeavor to turn leftover Christmas trees into canes for veterans in need.
Jaime Willis, owner of Canes for Veterans Central Texas, has received 1,000 donations this season, according to KDFW-TV. Several hundred of those trees came from a Home Depot in Killeen, near Copperas Cove.
“We are overwhelmed with excitement and love and appreciate the support and blessings we have received so far,” Willis wrote of the donation. “I hope to continue to work with you guys throughout our journey. Thank you again!”
For Willis, it all started in 2016, when he — himself a veteran — needed a cane. Unsatisfied with the one he received from Veterans Affairs, he went searching on Facebook for an alternative. Willis soon came across the group Free Canes for Veterans.
That group’s leader, Oscar De Vere Morris, was making around 500 canes at the time and was unable to add Willis to his list of orders, so he gave him the instructions to make one for himself. The Texas native picked up the skill fast and soon found himself running his own charity making walking canes for other vets.
Willis makes some of his canes in a day while other more detailed designs can take up to a week. To date, he has made more than 200 canes for veterans across the country.
“The whole process, it’s just done off donations,” he told KXXV-TV. “I make the canes myself. Everything’s done out of pocket.”
During the holiday season, to help keep costs down, Willis takes Christmas tree donations, using the wood to make even more canes. He also needs sandpaper, polyurethane, paintbrushes, and grinder discs.
If you’re interested in helping support Canes for Veterans Central Texas, you can make a donation on Willis’ GoFundMe page.