The USS Midway Museum’s flight deck was turned into a summertime Santa’s workshop when The Home Depot Foundation came to town.

Home Depot volunteers from all over the country built playhouses, picnic tables, dog beds, outdoor benches and chairs, and planters all destined to become early Christmas presents for the families of military members and veterans, as well as military and veteran support organizations.

“The Home Depot Foundation was proud to partner with the USS Midway Museum to make a difference in the lives of countless members of our military and veterans across the San Diego area,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. “As an organization that celebrates and honors our nation’s heroes, the Midway was the perfect location to live out our shared mission of giving back to veterans.”

The foundation works to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans and has invested more than $400 million in veteran causes and improved more than 50,000 veteran homes and facilities since 2011.

Volunteers tackled 145 build-projects on Midway.

“We couldn’t be happier with our partnership with The Home Depot Foundation,” said Craig Fisher, Midway’s director of partnership marketing who helped coordinate the event. “Midway and The Home Depot Foundation share a common purpose to support those who serve our great nation in uniform as well as to preserve the iconic USS Midway Museum as the place for exceptional experiences and to celebrate stories of courage, sacrifice and valor.”

On a hot August morning, more than 300 volunteers from Home Depot stores and service centers around the nation swarmed Midway’s flight deck, clad in bright orange T-shirts and armed with hammers, screw drivers, tape measures and saws. With military precision, the enthusiastic Samaritans mustered at multiple working stations set up on the deck and got down to business.

“I’ve been involved in these events with Home Depot for nine years, and this event on the Midway is the coolest one we’ve ever had,” said Amber Hall, who works at a Home Depot store in Houston. “My dad served in Vietnam, so I have a lot of pride being part of this project on the Midway”

In less than four hours, the volunteers, using a treasure trove of carpentry tools, turned more than 32 pallets of wood and nearly 160 gallons of paint into dozens of sets of outdoor furniture, dog beds and playhouses that will uplift the lives of veterans and those serving on active duty. There were 145 build-projects in all.

“I’m appreciative of this project,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kim Valiente, a hospital corpsman assigned the Naval Medical Force Pacific at Naval Base San Diego. “It was exciting to see the volunteers actually build the playhouse for my daughter Lilian. It was a very special moment.”

“My grandfather and father were in the Navy,” said Angie Goodyear, a Home Depot support center manager from Atlanta. “For me it’s all about family. My dad would be very proud to see me here on the Midway helping the military community.”

Along with directly helping families, the project also benefited a number of San Diego non-profit organizations including the Armed Services YMCA, Shelter to Soldier, Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) and Veterans Village of San Diego.

“All of us at Armed Services YMCA were humbled by these efforts in support of our mission,” said Ken Callaway, director of the YMCA’s Horse of the Sun Ranch. “The cool kid’s Adirondack chairs, beautiful benches and picnic tables will be an amazing addition to our operation. They will be placed in picturesque settings across the ranch so our visiting military families can have so many more places to relax and play.”

Ten playhouses were built for military families and support organizations.

The Home Depot volunteers also provided the Midway with a minor face lift renovating several exhibit spaces, painting a number of exterior locations and converting an unused portion of the ship into a learning lab for nonprofit partners, schools and veteran service organizations.

“Preserving Midway is an ongoing, daily mission for us 365 days a year,” said Len Santiago, Midway’s chief engineer. “When the Home Depot team offered to help, it was a tremendous opportunity, that our small engineering staff greatly appreciated, to tackle some items on our honey-do list.”

The spirit of The Home Depot Foundation volunteers easily matched the cumulative value of this community outreach project which was estimated at nearly $300,000. The foundation has pledged to invest half of a billion dollars in veteran causes by 2025.

“I think it’s great working with the best of San Diego, all in one place to help preserve the legacy of the USS Midway,” said Danny Watson, who was the project manager for The Home Depot Foundation’s event on Midway. “I have family that served in the military and it’s especially dear to my heart to give back to military families and those who have served.”

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