When a homeless veteran passes away, if there are no family members to claim them, their remains are cremated and put into a black plastic bag which then gets buried in a cardboard box. This didn't sit right with Mark Craddock, a disabled veteran.
To that end, Craddock created Winter Wood Workers, a small group of volunteers in Texas that share a workshop with others and construct charity projects, primarily building urns so that homeless vets can have a proper burial.
"These urns are for homeless veterans who have no family members to ask for anything," Craddock told Connecting Vets. "The urns are for homeless veterans to honor these men and women who served this country but have been forgotten."
Craddock also has a personal connection to this issue.
"I'm a Vietnam veteran, I've got two guys on the wall who will never be able to come home because they were hit in a bunker."
Now he coordinates the group of woodworkers, encouraging volunteers to help out.
"We got a former Navy corpsman, with double purple hearts, who turns the lathe," he said.
Craddock has started a Patreon page as well as a GoFundMe page to gather financial support for this endeavor. He hopes to eventually be able to bring in professional woodworkers to teach others how to build the urns.
Last year they donated 18 urns for cemeteries in Texas and, "three weeks ago we took 32 urns to them, each cemetery gets eight urns."
Winter Wood Workers has also worked on other charity projects, including building 18 caskets for families who lost their babies during childbirth.
They have also constructed picnic tables for a local park.
"We got four of us working in the shop Tuesday and Thursday from 1-4 PM and Saturday from 10-1 PM," Craddock explained.
Craddock said that he was able to get a really good deal on lumber out of Kansas City, but they need support to train up more workers and build more urns.