LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — As floodwaters rose in Eastern Kentucky last month, they threatened to wipe out the work of a project the Letcher County Clerk has been doing for decades.
It's a unique fundraiser to help veterans in the community. His fellow county clerks stepped in Wednesday to make sure that project would continue.
Letcher County Clerk Winston Meade and other Eastern Kentucky county clerks started the "Birdhouse Project" to help veterans.
"They got to noticing at the VA center there was a lot of them that at Christmastime, didn't have a lot of family members coming to visit, so they took it upon themselves to start pulling out of their pocket and do things for these veterans and then sprung the birdhouse project," said Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny.
People can donate expired license plates to their county clerk's office. Meade takes them, turns them into birdhouses to sell in county clerk's offices across the state, and the money goes to help veterans.
"At some point, he's probably touched each one of these. That's really moving to me, because he's done so much work for the veterans and really wants them to know how much they mean to him," said Grant County Clerk Tabatha Clemons. "There was a veteran who, the only thing he asked for for Christmas was a subscription to his local newspaper so that he could keep in touch with his community,"
Meade had a huge stockpile of the birdhouses when that high water flooded his home and workshop. Meade is okay, and immediately got to work, try to get drinking water to his neighbors. His fellow county clerks hauled away all the birdhouses that survived to clean them up and find a way to get them to the clerk's offices.
"As we're loading all of this, I feel like I'm taking a piece of him away from him, because this has been his life's work," said Clemons. "It was really tough that day. There was a lot of emotion, a lot of sadness, and then a lot of hope at the same time,"
Hope that out of the tragedy in Eastern Kentucky will come a flood of goodwill through the birdhouses.
"This is an opportunity for us to really ramp back up and to make a difference and really to impact the legacy that Winston and those Eastern Kentucky clerks first started," Clemons said.
Denny said the project has raised more than $800,000 for veterans since it began.