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Frank Gray

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Materials sought for vet's home

Earlier this summer, UPSTAR, a Realtors association, announced plans to build a home for an Afghanistan veteran who had come home with major injuries and put out a plea for monetary or in-kind donations.

The response has been strong. Within a short period, businesses and trade groups had pledged $20,000 in cash, materials or labor, and now, just six weeks later, pledges total close to $44,000.

But that still leaves the effort more than $20,000 short of its goal, and the deadline for starting the house is fast approaching. UPSTAR hopes to begin construction in September so the house can be enclosed before fall weather arrives.

A whole lot of people have come forward. Companies, labor unions and individuals have donated materials, including the lot, or pledged to do all the electrical, plumbing or HVAC work.

But there are a handful of jobs that haven’t attracted donors. There’s a need for people to donate concrete, roofing packages and insulation. Someone has expressed interest in framing the home, but they haven’t gotten written confirmation yet. In other words, a lot of the things that look like a house are still waiting for people to come forward.

What is noteworthy about this particular project, though, is the charity that inspired the Realtors group to begin with. They are working with what is called the Homes for Wounded Warriors Program.

In the past few years, lots of organizations have popped up, asking for the public to donate to programs for soldiers who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one of the most popular phrases to include is Wounded Warriors.

Some organizations using that as part of their name have done immensely well, raising more than $100 million a year. They boast boards of directors and officials who run the day-to-day operations.

Then there is the Homes for Wounded Warriors Program. It’s based in Indiana. It was founded by a Marine out of Peru. Its goal is to build or modify houses for injured veterans, and it has accomplished that for more than one veteran in Fort Wayne.

On its website, the group makes the point that it’s one thing to say you support the troops. People need to step forward and help, and to those who do, the program promises they won’t be paid a red cent.

That’s refreshing. There are no fundraising fees or salaries for executives. When you make a donation to one of its projects, you know exactly where your money is going – into a house on a lot off Landin Road. If you donate materials, you know exactly where they will be going.

For its part, UPSTAR, which is coordinating the entire project, says it is overwhelmed by the support the project has received.

What they’re still waiting for, though, is what they call some major construction packages. Or the money to buy them.

The house will be built for Matthew Moeller and his wife and their son. He suffers from traumatic brain injuries and other conditions and has been declared disabled.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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