Constructive charityPublished 11:24am Thursday, March 28, 2013
By Ed Bailey, Sports Editor
Team Depot builds ramp to benefit local veteran
When Robert Pecce Sr. and his wife Blanche walk in and out of their home, the journey will be much easier thanks to a charitable gesture by the Alexander City Home Depot.
The Pecces are the latest beneficiaries of Team Depot, a group of volunteers that gives back to the community via construction projects.
Lee Seaton, departmental supervisor for lumber and building materials at the Alexander City Home Depot, led the latest endeavor: building a ramp for the Pecces both of whom are handicapped.
Robert, a World War II veteran, uses a cane to get around in his day-to-day activities. Blanche, who is nearly blind, uses a walker to get around.
Robert said it all started with an ordinary visit to Home Depot.
“I knew that I’d have to have a ramp put in because she cannot climb the stairs, and I’m lucky if I can make it up five,” he said. “I went up to Home Depot to price some lumber, and I ended up talking to Lee.”
After talking with Seaton and sharing tales of his service for the Navy as a combat medic and the service of his son Robert, Jr. in Vietnam, Pecce discovered that his plan for a ramp was not enough for the purpose it would serve.
He said the estimate for the material was high yet still affordable for him without issue.
When Seaton heard Robert’s story, he decided to try and see if he could get it authorized to provide the material to the Pecces free of charge through Home Depot’s national community program.
“Those are our values,” Seaton said. “We want to give back to the community, especially veterans. When I heard his story, it touched me. I think it’s a great thing to do for veterans, especially for him. He’s a World War II veteran, and not too many of those are alive anymore. When we found out that his son was a Vietnam veteran, that was like cake with the ice cream.”
Seaton, who saw the gesture as a way to thank Pecce for his service, ran the idea by his superiors and returned with good news.
When Seaton informed Robert of their plans, Robert said he was completely stunned.
“When I heard that, my chin dropped,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. But sure enough, it materialized. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t thank these people enough.”
Seaton and his crew showed up bright and early in the morning Wednesday. Robert said he was flabbergasted by their generosity.
“I’m taken aback with sincere emotion, seeing that these people are so very, very kind,” he said. “I want the people to know how good these people are.”
Blanche said that the gesture would not be forgotten.
“It means the whole world to us,” she said.
Seaton said while Robert couldn’t stop expressing how thankful he was, he wanted Robert to know that this project didn’t require any thanks. Seaton said it was the least they could do for a man they considered a hero.
“He couldn’t stop thanking us,” Seaton said. “We told him that this was our way of thanking him. Talking to him brought tears to my eyes, and I’m a grown man so I don’t cry very much. We had to do this for them. It’s the Home Depot way.”
Robert Jr. said he was very appreciative for what Seaton and his team did for his parents. “I didn’t know that a company like Home Depot would even consider lending old soldiers a hand,” he said. “I’m very grateful that they’re doing this.”
When the ramp was completed, Robert Jr. only had one thing to say.
“I just hope my legs are strong enough to push my mother up the ramp,” he said.