Rather than letting people’s Christmas trees go to a landfill, this Texas veteran is asking community members to donate their old fir trees so he can turn them into stylish canes for his fellow veterans.
After serving in the US Army for 8 years, Jamie Willis returned to Copperas Cove as a 100% disabled veteran who was completely unable to work.
In addition to being forced to use a cane, the Veteran Affairs provided Willis with a cane that was annoyingly ugly and unstable.
Shortly after he discovered the pitfalls of typical VA canes, he discovered Free Canes for Veterans, a Florida-based organization dedicated to giving away cool-looking handmade canes to veterans.
Willis then reached out Oscar Morris, the mastermind behind the organization, and asked if he could learn how to make his own cane—and Morris was happy to oblige.
After Willis made his first wooden walking stick, he worked with Morris to open up a branch of the organization in central Texas. Since opening up shop in 2016, he has crafted and donated more than 200 customized canes for veterans.
“I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” the 50-year-old vet told CNN. “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”
Now that the holiday season is over, Willis is asking homeowners to donate their old Christmas trees for him to recycle into canes. It typically takes Willis a day’s worth of work to turn one Christmas tree into a cane. After that, he packages it up and ships it off to the recipient.
Although Willis usually crafts his canes for fellow ex-service members, he is also happy to make his canes for anyone with a disability.
This is the second year that Willis has called for tree donations, although he has already been flooded with support since Home Depot donated 400 trees and community members donated an additional 100. If you want to help Willis pay for the organization’s shipping and handling costs, you can donate to his GoFundMe campaign.
(WATCH the interview below) – Photo by Canes for Veterans Central Texas
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