By LINDSAY CAREY
A Southington man was pleasantly surprised when a local Home Depot manager took it upon himself to give him a Christmas tree for the holidays since the man’s son is coming home from the Air Force after being away from his family for eight months.
Jim Frauenheim said a friend of his was helping him at the Home Depot on 1816 Meriden Waterbury Tpke. to find a small tree for his home. The business offered to reduce the tree about 50 percent because of his son’s service.
When Frauenheim went to the store to pick one out he met a Home Depot manager Jeff Papalo and told him about his youngest child Steven Frauenheim’s upcoming 10-day leave from the Air Force.
Jim Frauenheim said he was looking for a small artificial tree for his living room because he couldn’t afford anything big. According to him, as he was speaking to Papalo about his son, the store manager abruptly disappeared.
“When he came back he said I was all set. Home Depot wanted to pay for it,” said Frauenheim. “They actually took it apart and put it in my car.”
Papalo said helping out veterans is a part of Home Depot’s core values and after hearing about Frauenheim’s son he was moved to do something.
“We’re supposed to try to make an emotional connection with customers and especially veterans, its something they try to instill in managers there,” said Papalo. “I was going to give him a break on it, but then I thought it about it and felt like it was the right thing to do,” said Papalo.
Frauenheim said the only thing that Papalo asked for in return was that his son come to visit him at Home Depot while he’s home and Frauenheim said his son has happily agreed to visit.
“With everything that’s happening in the world right now with all the strife and protests, it’s amazing to see someone do something like this,” said Frauenheim. For Papalo, it was just something small that his company allows him to do to give back to veterans and he was happy to do it. For Frauenheim, who is planning a welcome home party for his son with all of his family and friends from high school and college coming over, this was huge.
“There are not too many things that surprise me, but that truly surprised me. I get emotional just talking about it,” said Frauenheim. “It really is the true meaning of Christmas.”
Papalo said that Home Depot does a lot of things like this not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. He said he has worked on a few projects for Team Depot, which is a program where Home Depot goes and does projects for veterans in their homes for free.
Papalo also said that the hardware store tries to do other things for the community like collecting canned goods for the Southington Community Services food pantry.