The holidays came early for the widow of a decorated U.S. Army veteran, whose home received a special pre-Thanksgiving makeover courtesy of the Burlington County Division of Military Veteran Affairs, The Home Depot Foundation, and the Patriot Fund.
The Home Depot Foundation and the Patriot Fund awarded Burlington County a $5,000 grant for the improvements to the Eastampton home of Tanya Pope, the widow of Army veteran, Joseph Pope Jr.
“Properly honoring our nation’s veterans and their families is a responsibility we all share and we are incredibly grateful to The Home Depot Foundation and the Patriot Fund for helping make the holidays brighter for Mrs. Pope and her family,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, who helped kickoff the service project on Tuesday morning with Joe Caruso, co-founder of the Patriot Fund and owner of the Trenton Thunder baseball club, and Pedro Santiago, store manager of The Home Depot in Ewing, New Jersey,
A group of about a dozen Home Depot associates, known as Team Depot, were among the volunteers who spent most of the day landscaping Pope’s yard and performing repairs and other work to the exterior, including installing a new gravel driveway and repainting the rear deck.
As a final surprise, the group put up new holiday lights and decorations.
It was fitting tribute to Pope and her late husband, whose service spanned three decades and included two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in battle.
His other military decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal with six Devices, the Bronze Star Medal with one Device, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Commendation Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1985 and he and Tanya made their home in Eastampton, where they raised two daughters. He passed away in 2013 from illness directly related to Agent Orange exposure.
“Our debt of gratitude to veterans and their families never expires,” said Eckel, who serves as the liaison to Military and Veterans Affairs. “Service projects like this one are important. Not only do they help support individual veterans and their families, but they also send a message of thanks to all veterans and inspire others to do the same.”
The project at Pope’s home is one of thousands undertaken by The Home Depot Foundation to help improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans and their families. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $400 million in veteran causes and improved more than 50,000 veteran homes and facilities. The Foundation has also pledged to invest half of a billion dollars in veteran causes by 2025.
Based in Mount Laurel, the Patriot Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting veterans and raising awareness about issues facing the veteran community. The group has partnered with The Home Depot Foundation to support veteran home makeovers.
“It was our honor as an all-volunteer foundation to work with Home Depot to assist our American Heroes, our military veterans,” said Caruso, the Patriot Fund’s co-founder.