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Gutters donated to local shelter

A former Home Depot employee who now works for Missouri Workforce Development recently learned of an urgent need at a Parkland shelter for the homeless and, with the assistance of the home improvement company’s Festus location, provided Shared Blessings in Bonne Terre with the necessary materials and labor — as well as an extra little surprise — all at no cost to the charity.

Army veteran Alvin Sutton, a Desloge resident and city alderman, works for the state of Missouri as a Workforce Development specialist — a position funded by a Department of Labor Grant and designed to provide services to veterans and eligible spouses that will assist in their transition into meaningful civilian employment.

“As a part of my job, I visit places like Shared Blessings, looking for veterans who might benefit from the services I provide under the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program,” Sutton said. “A lot of the people that Shared Blessings helps are veterans. I noticed a month or two ago on the Shared Blessings webpage that they were looking for donations of gutters and downspouts to repair and/or replace the existing guttering that was in bad shape.”

Having worked for the home improvement company in the past, Sutton was aware of the Home Depot Foundation and thought it might be able to provide the shelter with the help it so desperately needed.

“Every year the Home Depot Foundation grants millions of dollars to nonprofit partners across the country whose programs focus on ending veteran homelessness, creating housing for critically wounded veterans and ensuring aging veterans have a safe place to call home,” he said. “When I worked at Home Depot, they were always doing something in the community. It wasn’t just for veterans, but they did have a part where they would go out and do something for veterans to potentially improve their quality of life.”

Sutton contacted his former manager, Ben Ragain, at the Festus location and explained Shared Blessings’ need.

“I asked him, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ and of course he was eager and receptive,” Sutton said. “He took the ball and ran with it from there and here we are.”

Ragain explained that after learning of Shared Blessings’ needs for gutters and downspouts, it quickly became what is called a Team Depot Project.

“Home Depot has a Team Depot Foundation that is committed to helping the community, but most importantly focuses on veterans,” he said. “We visited Shared Blessings and the tie-in with veterans allowed us to submit an application to get a grant to pay for — not just repairing what was damaged — but a whole new package of all new gutters and downspouts for the entire facility.”

According to Ragain, the estimate submitted to the foundation for the cost of the project totaled $3,800.

“Typically, it takes about three weeks to find out if the request is approved or denied,” he said. “In this case it only took 24 hours for them to approve it and we were able to move forward. The nice thing is that we have a separate division of Home Depot called Home Depot Exteriors (HDE) that comes out and does all the work for us.”

The team performed the entire installation at Shared Blessings on Oct. 24.

“They did the install,” Ragain said. “All the materials came straight off their truck, but was still done through our store.”

It was then that Ragain revealed a surprise that neither Sutton or Shared Blessings had been aware of previously.

“Since we weren’t really able to come down from the store and do the work ourselves, right now in the back of my truck I have around 450 canned goods to give to Shared Blessings,” he said. “We’ve got about 105 associates at the store. We wanted to do something since we’re used to going out into the community and doing the hands-on work.

“The guys from HDE came out and did the actual labor today, so the associates in the store really wanted to get involved. We decided to set a goal of about 400 canned goods and we collected 450. I know that [Shared Blessings Director] Shelly Bess talked about a big Thanksgiving dinner and a lot of folks that come through here to get that, so we thought it was important to bring some food to help out.”

Bess expressed her thanks for the donation of the guttering, labor and canned goods provided the homeless shelter.

“For about five years we have needed gutters desperately,” she said. “The ice off the roof took the gutters off. Some places never had gutters before. Thanks so much to Alvin Sutton for noticing that we needed gutters and remembering the Home Depot project serving veterans.

“I pulled up and it made such an astronomical difference. It will so beneficial in the winter and then into the spring months. Our building was built in 1910 and we can’t afford to do the maintenance to it, so when something like this is done for us, we are just humbly grateful for everything.

“As far as the donated canned goods, Thanksgiving is coming around the corner where I believe we’ll feed over 2,000 people this year. Those 450 canned goods won’t be on Grove Street very long.”

After free guttering work was completed on a Bonne Terre shelter, Festus Home Depot Store Manager Ben Ragain, second from left, announced that he had about 450 canned goods in the back of his truck for Shared Blessings to feed its temporary residents over the holidays. Pictured, from left, are Workforce Development Specialist Alvin Sutton, Ragain, <span><p class=Associate Support Department Supervisor Rachel Giammanco and Kathy Grogan, representing Shared Blessings.” width=”800″ /> After free guttering work was completed on a Bonne Terre shelter, Festus Home Depot Store Manager Ben Ragain, second from left, announced that he had about 450 canned goods in the back of his truck for Shared Blessings to feed its temporary residents over the holidays. Pictured, from left, are Workforce Development Specialist Alvin Sutton, Ragain, Associate Support Department Supervisor Rachel Giammanco and Kathy Grogan, representing Shared Blessings.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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