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96-year-old St. Cloud veteran on volunteer help: 'I'm overwhelmed'

St. Cloud Police Department Deputy Chief Vinny Shepard, center, and St. Cloud Home Depot Store Manager Alex Calderon, right, help raise the American flag installed in the yard of former U.S. Army veteran Helen Crawford.

A 96-year-old U.S. Army veteran said she was “overwhelmed” that a wave of volunteers in St. Cloud came out to give her home a facelift.

Members of the Osceola Council on Aging, The Home Depot store in St. Cloud and the St. Cloud Police Department worked tirelessly on Monday to help Helen Crawford, a former U.S. Army captain.

It’s part of a program called Helping Homebound Heroes.

The volunteers teamed up to paint the exterior of Crawford’s house, install smoke detectors, evaluate the roof for leaks, pressure wash, repair and install doors inside the house, provide rescreening for a Florida room and landscape with new plants and mulch.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Crawford from her Wisconsin Avenue home in St. Cloud.  “I’m very grateful.”

Crawford, served as a nurse from 1955 to 1959 at the U.S. Hospital in Tokyo, Japan.

“I enjoyed the service a great deal,” said Crawford. “We took excellent care of the patients.”

The improvements were expected to help Crawford move freely throughout her home, since she broke her hip back in 2017.  She requires oxygen and has suffered hearing loss.

On Monday morning, St. Cloud Police Department Deputy Chief Vinny Shepard worked diligently to rescreen the rear section of Crawford’s home. He said members of the police department volunteer their time as much as they can each year to help those in need.

“It means a lot to give back to the community and especially to a 96-year-old veteran who served her country,” Shepard said.

Alex Calderon, store manager at the St. Cloud Home Depot, worked alongside of fellow company employees, spreading much and doing other home improvement tasks, including painting and clearing out tree debris. They also helped to install a 20-foot lighted flagpole to celebrate the service that Crawford provided to the nation.

“To be able to leverage the power of Home Depot to do some good within the community and with a veteran who served our country, it’s just an incredible feeling,” Calderon said. “We are going to change the whole face of this house when all is said and done.”

Crawford happens to be a recipient of the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program.

 “Our veterans, especially our senior veterans are very important to us here in Osceola County and we are proud to serve them with dignity and care, so partnering with The Home Depot Foundation is a great partnership,” said Beverly Hougland, Council on Aging president. “Our veterans wouldn’t have the care and support to move more freely, if we didn’t have this partnership with The Home Depot Foundation.”

Crawford said that the volunteers were going to take pictures of the work and show her the completed project because she can’t walk outside.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said.