Hundreds of canes later, Eustis man continues turning Christmas trees into canes for fellow veterans
Free Canes for Veterans founder says Christmas trees and veterans are similar
EUSTIS, Fla. – In 2015, News 6 first told the story of a Eustis man who was giving back to veterans using Christmas trees. Five years later he is still at it.
Once a Christmas tree is discarded, Oscar Morris, the founder of Free Canes for Veterans, uses it to make unique canes at no cost to disabled veterans.
“We take their wants and needs and we put their wants and needs into each cane. Each person has a different mobility issue and we address that,” Morris, a Navy veteran, said. “They have gone all over the United States and they’ve even gone overseas.”
Hundreds of custom made canes have been gifted since he founded the organization.
“It’s cut to the exact size that they need," Morris said. "These canes are made to fit your hand, not your hand fitting the smaller cane like the ones they get from the medical” the 54-year-old said.
From unique bullet handles to dragon shapes, the Eustis native says the idea to help his fellow veterans was like divine intervention.
“I believe that this was what God wanted me to do and I just ran with it, instead of running from it,” he said.
Morris also believes there's a similarity between a Christmas tree and a veteran.
“The Vietnam veteran, like the tree, was taken young--was whipped into shape, decorated,” he said. “At the end of the season, it was no longer needed and so what do you do with the tree, just goes out to the curb, just like what they felt. Korean veterans, a lot of veterans today feel the same way but it’s not as strong as the rejection the older veterans got.”
Morris has been making art with wood since he was a child.
“This was how I was raised. We didn’t have money for gifts. So a lot of times we made gifts, so we’d take like a palm limb, and I would carve it into a canoe,” he recalled. He said those childhood handmade gifts helped develop his creativity.
The canes are created inside Morris’ woodshop just behind his home in Eustis and it takes him about two weeks to make one cane.
"When I get the wood, I start thinking about the veteran and I start putting in my heart as if I'm standing right there talking to that veteran," he said.
It’s a labor of love for his brothers and sisters that is priceless. For Morris, the reward is knowing that he made a veteran smile.
“What you give from your heart to somebody else, you will get back in tenfold,” Morris said.
To date, Morris has made 731 canes so far. He still has to make about 300 orders which is why he is currently not taking any new orders.
To contact Oscar, visit his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Veterancanes/ he also posts “how-to” video for veterans and first responders interested in learning how to make a wooden cane.
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