EUSTIS, Fla. – This week's Getting Results Award winner is helping support military veterans in more ways than one.
Oscar De Vere Morris has been making free, artistic, custom canes for veterans all across the country.
Morris says he's been working with wood his whole life, most recently doing furniture repair. But when he came across a piece of cypress while fishing, his life took a turn.
"Cypress limbs, when they get old they have a lot of character," he says. "I'm looking at it and thinking this is going to make a pretty cool cane."
He says he made a few more and tried offering them to the local VA, but it was unable to accept them.
So he started Free Canes for Veterans.
"I put it on Facebook and said 'hit the share button," Morris said, adding that he was shocked by the repose.
"They did!" he says. "The phone kept ringing 24 hours a day. It was all over the United States."
Morris says he's committed to making 500 canes. Many will be made with donated Christmas trees. "One guy dropped off 15 of them," he says, pointing to a large pile of Douglas fir taking up a good portion of his yard. "These are the trees that are already cut. Lowe's donated 188 of them."
Morris spends most nights and weekends in the large shop behind his house. Sawdust coats just about every surface. Canes in various stages of completion hang from drying racks shiny shellac coats the floor. Five or six canes sit ready for shipping. Thank you notes and letters, posted up with thumb tacks, also coated with dust, dot the walls.
"You can do anything with wood as long as it lets you," Morris says. "Each cane has its own character. A bend here a knot there. The grains flow in all directions."
In fact, making canes has become a full-time/part-time obligation.
"Every single spare second that I have is spent out here in the shop," he says. "They are the fuel that feeds me. The 'God bless you's, the thank you's.' It all becomes fuel for me. I use that as the strength to keep doing this."
Each cane comes with a penny from the veteran's year of enlistment. Morris embeds them in the handle. A personal touch for a personal item.
"Every single one of them has a story," Morris says as he places a shiny 1972 penny in a puddle of glue. It sinks into the end of a barrel-shaped handle.
"I'm a professional penny polisher," he says. "Each person gets a cane that's individually different, just like themselves."
Each cane does have a story, just like the men and women who will receive them.
"This one is made of pecan," Morris said. "There was a tree that went down not far from here."
He says the biggest surprise though is the community that's formed using his Facebook page. Morris posts video updates just about every night. He says many of his followers get emotional support from the veteran community.
"It's from one veteran to another, they honor that."
Morris is nearly halfway through his list of 500 orders. He expects to be done by April or May. But that won't be the end of his shop time. He wants to make canes for veterans with special needs, those who can't use a traditional design.
"I found my little plug in life, I found my purpose," he said.
If you would like to help with shipping costs, a GoFundMe account has been set up to take donations.