In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, we are re-sharing this article we originally published last year.
Here at Walnut Studiolo, we make sure every scrap of material is put to good use. Nothing is wasted. Though we typically find creative ways to incorporate scrap leather into our own projects (like our Headphone Organizer and Leather Washers), we were so inspired when we found a different use for our remaining workshop material: the organization Help Heal Veterans.
Craft Kits For a Cause
War veterans have been through horrifying experiences and far too often their minds can’t stop replaying the disturbing events. This makes it challenging for them to recover from trauma.
Since 1971, the organization Help Heal Veterans have been providing free craft kits to veterans through military facilities, state vet homes, healing centers and direct from their website.
“These projects give war veterans something to think about so their minds are not dwelling on the unfortunate experiences of war,” says Plant Manager Chip Purkey who has been with the organization since 1998. “The hand-eye coordination required for these projects has been the biggest benefit – it helps with physical recovery.”
Chip says the projects give the vets a great sense of accomplishment and they often pass them on as gifts to loved ones.
How Walnut Got Involved
We were so pleased when Help Heal Veterans contacted us and asked if we might donate some of our scrap leather to the organization. It charmed us even more when we realized Chip was rather familiar with the veg-tanned leather we use.
“Hermann Oak is an extremely generous opportunity. I know this leather well – carves like butter! There aren’t many leather people around and it’s great that you guys are out there doing what you do.”
It turns out Chip is no stranger to the craft industry; he got his start with an after school job outlining Paint by Number illustrations for Craft Master when his father worked for the company.
Healing Vets Through Craft
Help Heal Veterans specializes in leather and wood craft kits of sorts, from the most simple to far more complex: clocks, music boxes, detailed models, moccasins, refined leather purses, etc. Over the years they have distributed millions of what they call “therapeutic kits.” The name seems perfectly accurate.
Though some people are skeptical at first, Chip says that 9.5 out 10 vets are hooked after trying their first kit. Some have even gone on to outfit their homes with complete workshops so they can work on more complex projects.
Chip says, “Not a week goes by without someone saying, ‘Oh my gosh you don’t know what this does for me – I look forward to these kits.’ “
“I’ve made some pretty significant friends all over the country,” Chip adds, “Just A-1 people.”
Making a Difference
“You know, the sad reality is that there are far too many financially challenged vets. Partners like you make us able to do what we do. We welcome it with open arms and just can’t thank you enough.”
Chip says one of the most valuable things people can do to support the organization is simply to let veterans know the resource exists and to help them get their hands on some kits.
Learn more about Healing Vets and how you can support their good work at HealVets.org.