To give back, and improve the lives of military families who selflessly protect our nation every day, Sears created the Heroes at Home program. Established in 2007, Heroes at Home demonstrates the company's longstanding and ongoing commitment to assist American troops and their families. Through this program, Sears strives to improve the lives of American military families by making necessary repairs, improvements or modifications to their homes. Through joint efforts with various nonprofit organizations, including Rebuilding Together and the USO, Heroes at Home is able to provide support to service members, veterans and their families.
The first beneficiary of the Sears Heroes at Home program was Sgt. Ryan Major of Silver Spring, Md., critically injured while on patrol in Iraq, who returned home greatly in need of assistance. Heroes at Home helped make possible numerous renovations to Major's home, including the installation of an elevator, a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and bedroom, landscaping and a deck.
Since this first project, Heroes at Home has raised $21 million and supported the extensive rehabilitation of more than 500 homes for deserving military families across the country. As it continues to grow, the program hopes to renovate more than 750 homes by the end of 2010, and will near that mark with a community restoration project in New Orleans this month.
Heroes at Home and Rebuilding Together, the nation's leading nonprofit working to preserve affordable homeownership, will support a special restoration event called Fifty for Five. Commemorating the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Sears will join more than 1,000 volunteers to rebuild 50 houses in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. Of the 50 homes being rebuilt there, nearly a quarter will be for veterans and their families.
One of the families that Heroes at Home will be supporting during Fifty for Five is the Hansell family. George Hansell, a Vietnam veteran, and his wife, Barbara, lived in the Gentilly neighborhood for almost 10 years until Hurricane Katrina flooded their home with eight feet of water. With their house uninhabitable, the Hansells moved to Atlanta, leaving their family as well as their home. In May 2010, George Hansell passed away. Barbara, however, remains committed to moving back to New Orleans. With the help of Heroes at Home and Rebuilding Together, she will be able to return this fall to her renovated home.
The Sears Heroes at Home program has also made it possible for Americans to recognize local veterans in their communities throughout the year. By visiting www.sears.com/heroesathome, individuals can nominate servicemen and women or military families who are struggling to make ends meet and who live in substandard housing. Furthermore, Sears customers can make monetary donations to support the program's ongoing efforts at any register in its stores nationwide.
Sears extends its commitment during the winter holiday season to the military through its Heroes at Home Wish Registry. The initiative helps make the holiday season brighter for families of active servicemen and women by providing Sears e-gift cards via donations. Americans can also show their gratitude by posting messages of support to military families, which are displayed live on the Sears Heroes at Home website. Through the efforts of Sears and the general public, the registry has helped more than 51,000 military personnel via more than $12.2 million in donations. For more information, or to nominate a local veteran in need of an affordable home, please visit www.sears.com/heroesathome.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
Scott Freidheim is exec VP-operating and support businesses for Sears Holdings Corp.