HAZARD — Perry County Clerk Haven King is one of 80 Kentucky county clerks that is selling recycled license plate birdhouses to benefit veterans. The money that is collected is sent to Hope for Veterans in Letcher County and distributed to various veteran centers around the state.
Arnold Lee Watson of Letcher County, came up with the idea of making birdhouses using discarded license plates. Sadly, Watson died last year. Before he died, he made over 1,000 birdhouses and the money collected from selling the birdhouses went towards Hope for Veterans.
“Last year, we sold $68,000 worth of birdhouses,” said King. He would go on to say, ” We just feel that the veterans deserve more than we can ever give them. We want them to know that someone cares about them. The clerks dearly care about them.”
The birdhouses cost $20 and the county clerks call this a donation. King said it would make excellent Christmas gifts and it is a good way to help the veterans.
King wanted to do something special for the veterans at Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center this year in honor of Watson.
“We spent over $6,000 in their rec room. We bought new couches, new chairs, new table and we put a plaque up in honor of all that he had done, because he had done so much,” said King.
The money donated not only helps the veterans with their needs, but also the things they want, King explained.
King told the story of visiting the veterans center before Christmas one year and ran into a veteran who told King that he had one brother that visited him once a year.
“That broke my heart,” King said.
He asked the veteran what he would want for Christmas and the veteran told King that he wanted a sports jacket, house shoes, UK shirt and jogging pants.
“I came back and called my county clerks here, boys from Breathitt County, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Laurel, Clay and Harlan. We all got together and said ‘Lets do this.’ We put that thing together and they sent us a list and we went ahead and had the best Christmas party. We have been doing that ever since,” said King.
This is the ninth year they have been putting on the Christmas party, and this year’s party is scheduled for Dec. 17.
“We just want to thank those people,” said King.
Some of the gifts that the veterans ask for is Guinness World Records books, watches, iPads, televisions, and old Western movies. One of the female veterans asked for jewelry. Other gifts include replacing broken glasses, buying new wallets if a veteran lost their old one, razors, and special type of chairs that help them move around better.
King said that the veterans there love to have visitors and the staff enjoy giving visitors tours of the center. King mentioned they have people come to visit the veterans and read to them.
“We just want them to know that there is people out there, that when they buy one of these (birdhouses) they care. We just want them to know that there is people out there that care about these veterans,” said King.
The birdhouses costs $20 each. Those wishing to purchase one can go to the Perry County Clerk’s Office. Cash or check are forms of payment that are accepted.
TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.