Wood whittling groups donate creations to veterans

Southern Arizona Woodworkers Association donates canes to veterans at least once a year
Published: Nov. 12, 2019 at 5:22 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2019 at 10:25 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Two local woodworking groups are carving their way into veteran's hearts.

Now a days, it's hard to find a hobby that goes right back to the roots -- before technology was part of daily life.

"Iphones, iPads, the internet," said Nancy Coultas, a member of the Western Whittlers group. "They talk to more people on the internet than they do face to face."

Coultas comes to the group twice a week for two reasons -- to make something special and to bond.

"Sometimes we talk more than we carve," said Coultas. "You lose all your work friends, then you have to make new friends. These are my new friends and I love them."

In the group, they've got their own groove.

They've met weekly for decades, nestled in the corner of a local woodworking shop.

"I haven't met a bad woodcarver yet,' said Jim Thompson. He's been in it since the very beginning. "I've been carving about 45 years."

Thompson said keeps his mind sharp, "It's a lot better than going to a psychiatrist. They're all good people. A lot of them will do just about anything for you."

While the group is good to everyone in it, it’s good to others too.

"A lot of us are veterans ourselves," said Thompson.

As often as he can, he and others with the Southern Arizona Woodworkers Association team up.

They lend a hand to wounded veterans in the polytrauma unit.

"It's our small way of giving back to those who served."

All in the details, hundreds of handmade staffs have been donated since 2008.

"We have a lot of talented woodworkers in our organization," said Thompson.

That talent has to stem from somewhere, like the Western Whittlers group.

For Thompson and his friends, like Sandey Elzea, it's their weekly get together.

"I like to be challenged,' Elzea said. "I like to have something different to do all the time."

It prompts lessons, some invaluable.

"Be patient with people. Not to judge them immediately," said Coultas. "Get to know them before you judge them cause I was one of those people that did. And I was mostly all wrong."

Coultas said it provides a sense of community. One splitting their time to help others, as well as helping themselves.

"I have to have a purpose. If I have a purpose, we do okay," said Coultas. "You lose all your work friends, then you have to make new friends. These are my new friends and I love them."

The Southern Arizona Woodworkers Association said they donate these canes to veterans at least once a year.

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