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Tuesday, 08 December 2015 16:46

Vet in OK Receives Restored Truck, Says Santa Not Always ‘in Red’

Vet OK Santa

Tahlequah Daily Press

Benny Peace, a U.S. Army veteran, received a 2002 Chevrolet S-10 from ICTC as a gift for his military service. Peace said he looks forward to revisiting places from his childhood.

During the season of giving, Indian Capitol Technology Center’s Bill Willis Campus got into the spirit by helping a resident of the community.

ICTC does community service events throughout the year, and Bill Sprague, auto body instructor, said his students wanted to make a veteran’s holiday a little brighter this year.

Through donations, ICTC restored a 2002 Chevrolet S-10 to give to Benny Peace, an Army veteran. Sprague said when the opportunity to help a veteran presented itself, he thought it was a worthwhile project.

“We’re helping a gentleman out. He’s a veteran, he’s in need of transportation, and we’re just trying to make a good Christmas for him,” Sprague said.

Travis Lane, who owns Three Rivers Collision, told ICTC about the vehicle.

“I have a student there. He came to me and asked if this would be something we were interested in doing,” Sprague said. “We decided we wanted to give it to a veteran.”

Sprague said ICTC wants to serve the community, and staff and students couldn’t think of a better way than by helping a person who spent part of his life serving his country.

“They put their life on line for us,” Sprague said of veterans. “So we feel like we need to give back to them a little bit. For me, it makes me feel good to give back.”

Lane helped facilitate the project after a Muskogee woman wrecked the vehicle and decided to donate it for a tax write-off instead of fixing it. Sprague said Muskogee Discount Auto Color, Tulsa Bumper and Tahlequah local Tommy Nix donated parts and materials, while ICTC students used the parts to get the truck back in working order.

Robin Roberts, ICTC campus director, said such projects build unity among students, and that they wanted to be part of a philanthropic cause.

“I think all we have here in America can be largely attributed back to what the service people do in defending our country and fighting for our beliefs and ideals,” Roberts said. “When you go into the military, it isn’t an extremely high salary, and in our history, we’ve had incidents where we have not shown great appreciation for our people who have served.”

Roberts said ICTC students constitute the next generation of workers and decision-makers, so educators want to instill a sense of community service and pride in them.

“There are so many entities that would not be in existence if people weren’t willing to give back, without expecting anything in return,” Roberts said. “So I think it’s very important for these students to feel that. I think just for them to experience that feeling first-hand will have a lasting impression on them to help others down the road and always look for opportunities on how they can give back.”

William Shatwell, an adult student at ICTC, said they have been working on the truck since August. He said many students enjoyed putting the final coats of paint on the finished project.

“It was a very good atmosphere, with people were wanting to work on it,” Shatwell said. “I feel like it makes the kids feel more involved with community, and they get to know it better.”

Peace, the Army veteran, was excited to receive the truck and said he will be able to visit Veterans Affairs without hitching a ride.

Peace, who left Cherokee County when was 15 years old, said that since returning in 1993, he hasn’t been able to get out much because he hasn’t had transportation.

“I got some old places I’d like to go see where I was raised up,” Peace said. “I’ve been back several years, but I still haven’t seen parts of the county, because I don’t want to ask someone to take me out there and then keep them occupied for two or three hours while I’m walking around the woods, or along the creeks I did as a kid. I’m not too much into Santa Claus. I hadn’t believed in him in a while, but I guess there is a Santa Claus; he just isn’t always dressed in red.”

We would like to thank Tahlequah Daily Press for reprint permission. 

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