John Morris, a woodworker who served in the U.S. Army, created The Patriot Woodworker website in March 2010 to establish a longstanding support network for disabled American veterans through woodworking-related endeavors such as fundraising projects. The site is based in San Jacinto, Calif., and essentially serves a non-profit organization that raises awareness about and supports veterans with the help of members who love woodworking.
“The Patriot Woodworker (www.thepatriotwoodworker.com) is a woodworking community with a cause. We all work with wood and we have a common bond besides woodworking. Many of us are veterans, many of us are not. But one thing we share is our concern and compassion for our men and women in the military who put it all on the line for us,” says Morris.
With the help of site administrators John Moody and Ronald Dudelston, Morris assists with fundraising efforts for existing programs sponsored by other organizations with similar missions. So far, he has helped raise more than $1,400 for the Wounded Warrior Project in the last two years and has donated more than 140 challenge coin displays to disabled veterans nationwide. He and other site members have donated time to Homes for our Troops to help build houses going to veterans.
In addition, Morris also creates and hosts his own unique fundraising projects, his most recent being The Patriot Woodworker Turning Contest, in which he partnered with Woodcraft and Easy Wood Tools. Participants donated their turned entries throughout August and September. The top four winning projects were announced on Veteran’s Day and entrants received tools and other prizes donated by the sponsors. The winning entries were then auctioned off to raise money for veterans in need.
“I offered the turning contest because I see Homes for our Troops and the Wounded Warrior Project and wanted to offer something as well. The turnout wasn’t as great as I had expected … We only had about a dozen entries. But this is the first year and I will be a better promoter next year.”
Morris says he has a personal mission to help troops and is dedicated to their cause. As a child, he was raised to honor and respect military service personnel, which resulted in him entering the service right after high school. He has been a woodworker since he was a teenager and often worked in custom cabinet shops between military service missions. He is currently employed full time as a land surveyor in addition to running the site. So far, the site’s proven to be a success and he plans to continue raising awareness of its existence. Outside donations and sponsorship are important to him because he pays out of his pocket any required expenses that aren’t met through fundraising.
“Over the past two years, we’ve asked for donations from our members and held fundraising drives for the various organizations we support at certain times of the year. Veterans Day, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day are always big and our members typically come through. The same goes for visitors alike. They’ll push the donate button and get some funds over to help.
This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue.