Woodcraft Supports Fundraiser for Military Family

PHOTO: SPC Ivan Merlo and his widow, Nicole Merlo, and her children, Camilla and Charlie.

A military widow from California and her children are experiencing a much merrier Christmas this year, thanks to a Patriot Woodworker Gold Star Family project.

The Patriot Woodworker “adopted” the Ivan Merlo family from San Marcos, California, through the Operation Ward 57 Adopt a Wounded Warrior/Gold Star Family program. Operation Ward 57 is a nonprofit organization that supports wounded, injured and ill service members, veterans and their caregivers with outreach programs. Learn more at http://www.operationward57.org.

About SPC 4 Ivan E. Merlo

SPC 4 Merlo graduated from San Marcos High School in 2006 and joined the U. S. Army in October, arriving at Fort Campbell four months later. The 19-year-old Merlo was due to return home after a yearlong deployment in Iraq and was looking forward to serving as best man at the wedding of his best friend and brother in combat, PFC Phillip J. Pannier. However, two weeks before Merlo’s scheduled return, both Merlo and Pannier died during combat – an Army offensive targeting insurgents north of Baghdad.

PHOTOS: SPC Merlo (shown in flight above) left a young wife, Nicole, his longtime girlfriend whom he married just before his deployment began.

Army Service

2nd Battalion
327th Infantry Regiment
1st Brigade Combat Team
101st Airborne Division
(Air Assault)
Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Medals & Awards

SPC Merlo’s medals and awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon, Weapons Qualification, M4, Expert. 

Raffle Exceeds Goal

To finance the project, The Patriot Woodworker sold raffle tickets for prizes donated by Woodcraft, Laguna and Easy Wood Tools.

“We set a goal of $1,500, but we raised well over that goal – $2, 175,” John Morris, Patriot Woodworker founder, said. “The money is being used to buy gifts and food for SPC 4 Ivan Merlo’s widow, Nicole, and her two children, Charlie and Camilla, ages 4 and 7, respectively. We are providing some wonderful gifts for the kids, and mama got a nice gift too. We are also treating the family to a day at Disney, per little Camilla's request, and they are getting a nice sized gift card for a local grocery store for their Christmas meal.”

As an incentive to buy tickets, John said that at the $1,700 mark three Patriot Woodworkers he calls the “Awesome Threesome” – Gene Howe, Kelly Churchill and Bill Schneider – pledged additional funding to match each dollar donated over $2,000.

Some Patriot Woodworkers and their families have also given gifts for the Merlo family. John Mordus made a keepsake box for Mrs. Merlo, and his wife made handmade blankets for each family member. Linda Leach made some crochet winter caps for the mother and the two children.

Raffle Winners & Help a Vet

Raffle winners include: Herbert C. Stoops of Auburn, Washington, Laguna Tools $500 Gift Certificate; Carl D. Zimmerman II of Romney, Indiana, full size set of Easy Wood Turning Tools; Lewis Kauffman of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a Rikon Slow Speed Grinder from Woodcraft; and Allen Worsham of Corona, California, a WoodRiver Benchtop Spindle Sander from Woodcraft that Worsham declined to accept.

According to John Morris, “Allen Worsham declined the prize. He said he only wanted to help the Merlo Family, and he asked that we donate the spindle sander to a military veteran woodworker who is in need.”

The Patriot Woodworker is a woodworking community with an emphasis on sharing and learning the skilled craft of woodworking and all of its related disciplines. Although the group supports veterans and active duty military personnel both here in the United States and in Canada, being a veteran is not a prerequisite to join. To learn more about this organization, visit http://thepatriotwoodworker.com.

A big thank you to you, John, to your “right-hand men” Ron Dudelston and John Moody, to Allen Worsham and to all the Patriot Woodworkers and their families for reaching out to this military family at Christmas and for supporting the men and women who have served and are serving to protect our country throughout the year. 

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