Soldiers put their lives on the line every day. Some have lost limbs in combat. Others suffer from post traumatic stress disorder resulting from the horrors of war. Still others have made the ultimate sacrifice with loss of life.
A group of local construction contractors, developers, home builders and business owners are banding together to show their appreciation for the sacrifices military men and women make by donating a Lower Keys modular home to one lucky service person.
An exact location for where the home will be placed has yet to be chosen.
The group has begun to accept applications and will announce the winner at this year's Keys Stock Music Festival on Feb. 16 in Key West, said Joe Cleghorn, an organizer of the home give-away and owner of Joe Cleghorn Homes.
"It's the right thing to do," Cleghorn said simply. "They have given so much and sacrificed so much for us that this is the least we can do for them .... Since we started this we have heard some of the most amazing stories. It touches your heart. What we are doing is worth every bit of effort."
Cleghorn called the give-away a "true community project." He is working with modular home companies Southernmost Homes and Champion Homes to provide the home. Local contractors Phillip Lowe Associates, Rob Williams and SHP General Contractors will do the actual construction and permitting.
"This is not just one person putting this together," Cleghorn said. "It's not an 'I' thing, but a 'we' thing .... We are lucky to live in a such a good community that cares about its people."
The organizers are still looking for more businesses and people to become involved in the project and lend their talents and services, Cleghorn said.
Fellow organizer Dave McGlathery sees the project as a "positive pill."
"People see us giving and they will want to give as well," said McGlathery, who is a manager of Lazy Lakes RV Resort on Sugarloaf Key. "We are just glad we can give to a group of people who have given so much."
Organizers are hoping to make the give-away an annual event, Cleghorn said.
"We would like to create a foundation that builds homes for veterans and active military personnel," Cleghorn said.
Cleghorn and a small committee will review applications and decide who will be chosen.
Veterans and active military personnel stationed in the Florida Keys interested in applying can contact Cleghorn at firstname.lastname@example.org. They should supply him with a narrative on their military experience and a biography about themselves.
Businesses and other people wanting to be involved in the project can also contact Cleghorn at his email address.