By JEN CARDINES
‘Tis the season to be giving… back to the community, that is. For the Home Depot Foundation, that means honoring veterans and military families in need through their Celebration of Service program.
Each year from Patriot’s Day (Sept. 11) to Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11), Team Depot , which consists of volunteers from Home Depot (HD) stores, takes care military members and their loved ones. Every store across America has a team captain that coordinates the work, and all of the materials are donated through a Home Depot Foundation grant.
The South Southington Home Depot, located at 1816 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, sent a team of 20 volunteers led by team captain Bill Kiely to work at a local house. Kiely said that he enjoys volunteering because he makes new friends and emotional connections with people.
“I do as many projects as I can,” he said.
The team’s current project, titled “Alicia’s Hope,” gave Alicia Cloutier a more handicap accessible home to maneuver in and out of her parents’ home. Alicia’s parents, Laura and Bill Maringola, both work full-time and haven’t been able to work on the house since she moved home in May.
“We were taken aback that there’s anything like this out there,” her mother said.
Cloutier recently moved into her parent’s house on Mulberry Street because her husband Tyler is stationed in California as a staff sergeant in the marines. Alicia has muscular atrophy and has been bound to a wheelchair for many years.
The couple’s California apartment was built to accommodate her needs, but her new home in Southington needed a few necessary amenities.
Rachel Wache, a member of the Southington Veterans Committee, played a role in the project as well. She worked with the Maringolas and Team Depot to coordinate the day and meet all of their needs.
“All you have to do is reach out and everyone is on board,” Wache said. “These are all volunteers doing amazing things.”
One of the first people to jump on board and volunteer was Bill Currao, who took the opportunity to give back to Team Depot for the work they did for his family. Currao’s son is a serviceman who has been on multiple tours and the organization built a playground in his backyard for his children.
The South Southington HD store manager Bill Murphy was on site as well. “We enjoy doing this,” he said. “It’s something Home Depot has put in over the years, and they support it so much.”
Team Depot removed the old, deteriorating wheelchair ramp leading into the house and replaced it with a newer, sturdier one to accommodate Alicia’s chair.
They also put down a concrete walkway from the ramp to a pool in the backyard where Alicia receives water therapy during the warmer months. With this addition, her parents no longer have to carry her up to the pool deck.
Wache said that she is looking to fundraise for a pool heater that the family can use to keep the pool open longer in the year, so that Alicia can use it for her therapy.
Money leftover from project grants goes directly back to the families, and Alicia’s Hope had an excess of about $600. The Maringolas can use that toward other expenses for their daughter, who is currently taking online graduate classes.
“This went beyond the hope that we thought,” Alicia’s father said.
To learn more about the project or to make a donation, contact Home Depot’s Southington South location at (860) 276-6837.
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI