Home Depot partners with local VFW for renovations

Home Depot volunteers partnered with members of the VFW Post 1350 to upgrade the VFW building with new LED lighting, ceiling tiles, flooring and fresh paint during an all-day project Feb. 4. Improving the lives of military veterans is a core value of the Home Depot Foundation. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Home Depot volunteers partnered with members of the VFW Post 1350 to upgrade the VFW building with new LED lighting, ceiling tiles, flooring and fresh paint during an all-day project Feb. 4. Improving the lives of military veterans is a core value of the Home Depot Foundation. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

The North St. Paul VFW was a sea of orange shirts working hard on pulling up carpet and taking down old ceiling tiles on Thursday, Feb. 4, as employees of Home Depot teamed up with members of Post 1350 to make a number of renovations on the building.

Home Depot has a volunteer program called Team Depot that specifically works with veterans in a variety of ways in order to improve their homes and communities. It is a grant-based program, and in the case of the North St. Paul VFW, Home Depot donated $10,000 to fund the project.

Two members of Post 1350 are also employees at Home Depot, and they suggested Team Depot assist with the improvements, according to Andy Nelson, a member of Team Depot.

“The people that help run the VFW would rather spend their money on veterans than on updating the building,” Nelson explained. “We wanted to help with that.”

Other improvements made on Feb. 4 included installing new carpeting, updating the lighting and painting the interior.

Associates from eight nearby Home Depot stores, including Maplewood and Woodbury, participated in updating the VFW’s interior.

Raising their community profile

Arthur O. Haukland Post 1350 originally began in 1934 and met in a library until the 1950s when its current building was constructed in downtown North St. Paul. There have been two additions to the building so far, creating more space for post and auxiliary meetings and events.

The VFW also rents out its space for a variety of community events, wedding receptions and private parties. It also lets charitable groups use the building at no cost.

Currently, the North St. Paul VFW has about 400 members. “We peaked in the late ‘70s and have definitely been on the decline since then,” said Pete Olofson, the post adjutant. Across the country, military organizations have been experiencing similar drops in membership in recent decades.

Olofson said that there are several reasons they attribute to the decline, but a major factor is that “many people simply have a lot of other things to do.”

Post 1350 is trying to raise awareness in the community and gain more members. To be eligible for membership in the VFW, one must have been stationed overseas or have a combat campaign ribbon. 

The North St. Paul VFW especially hopes to draw in more young military veterans. “We’re hoping that if we spiff [the building] up, we can attract more people,” Olofson explained. 

He added that the local VFW hosts a lot of public events, such as fish fries, and sells food during the Friday night History Cruzers car show during the summer months, and offers activities such as Bingo to elderly veterans in the area. 

Mutual gratitude

Olofson said that the VFW members are grateful for the work that Home Depot did to help improve their post and that they “deserve a lot of credit.”

The renovation work on Feb. 4 was done entirely by volunteers. Nelson said that many people at Home Depot have friends and family serving in the military and are glad for an opportunity to give back to veterans.

Since 2011, over $110 million has been donated by Home Depot to go towards housing improvements for veterans nationwide. 

Elizabeth Jaeger can be reached at 651-748-7814 or ejaeger@lillienews.com.

 

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