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Volunteers rebuild veteran’s shop that burned down over summer

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 10:29 PM CDT
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HANSEN, Neb. (KSNB) - A group of volunteers got together to help a local veteran rebuild his shop. They came from all over the country but had the same goal - to help Kenneth Hegwood get back on his feet after a fire burned down his shop back in June.

“It’s awesome," Hegwood told Local4 News. “I still can’t believe how many people have come forward.”

Hegwood has been painting military patches, helmets and bags since the 1940′s. He thought his time as an artist was over when his shop burned down, but his community had a different plan.

“I really wasn’t going to build again because of my age,” he said. “I’m 88, and I don’t need to, but everyone wants me to keep painting and doing the artistry work on the veterans memorabilia.”

Ken’s work is so meaningful, people came from all over the country to help him get back to it. Frederic Drummond Jr. came all the way from Tampa, Florida.

“When I heard about the devastating fire, the first thing in my mind was that I’m going to come back and bring Ken’s building out the ashes and put him to work,” Drummond said.

Drummond added that he knew he would have no trouble finding people to help.

“Nebraska is full of great American veterans that have served in multiple wars over the last 20 years in the Middle East,” he said. “So I knew coming back when I was coming back to Nebraska that I wouldn’t have a problem getting volunteers to come out and do this.”

Many of the products at the construction site were donated by shops in Hastings and Grand Island. The whole community truly came together to help Ken out.

“We were pretty much in right away,” Chris Fischer, Store Manager at the Grand Island Home Depot, said. “Being able to give back to a cause like this is just what we’re about. It’s part of our core values to give back to the community and take care of our veterans.”

The goal is for them to have the shop completely rebuilt and ready for a ribbon cutting by Friday. They will need more volunteers to make sure that can happen. If you’re interest in joining, you can email Drummond at Frederic.Drummond@gmail.com or just stop by the construction site in Hansen.

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