Local man gives furniture to veterans

Seeing NFL players kneel during the National Anthem at football games this season made local business owner Dan Fiedler angry.

So he took a stand in another way.

That way saw trucks and other vehicles forming a serpentine line around the storage units at DS Storage on Saturday, as people waited to load up furniture and other necessities.

The furniture all came from a hotel liquidation in Pennsylvania, part of Fiedler’s business. Normally, that furniture is resold, but Fiedler brought the items to his storage units just off State Highway 22 between Shawano and Cecil, and he invited veterans and single parents to the facility to select three items they could leave with for free.

Steven LaCount, who just bought a house in Oconto, said he heard about Fiedler’s plans and decided that it was a good opportunity to get a jump on furnishing the place. LaCount, a corporal in the U.S. Army, is in the reserves until 2020.

“This is really a nice thing for the community,” LaCount said. “Not a lot of people do that. Most people post on Craigslist and try to make a couple of bucks off of it instead of trying to help people.”

One of the items LaCount got was a king-sized mattress, something he feels is essential with his family sharing a home with two dogs and two cats.

“Trying to squeeze on the mattress we had, it was kind of cramped,” LaCount said. “We’d bought them orthopedic dog beds, but nope. They want to sleep on the bed with us, and they’re part of the family, so you really can’t tell them no.”

Kay Hoffman, of Shawano, is a specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves. She heard about the furniture giveaway for veterans and decided it would be a good thing, as her family has just started refurbishing a bedroom.

“Getting a bed would have been close to $1,000,” Hoffman said. “A nightstand would have been $200.”

Hoffman said she was surprised that the furniture was being given out. She said she would have had no problem paying a token fee for the items.

“Why couldn’t you have charged 10 bucks?” Hoffman asked Fiedler.

Charging a fee would have missed the point, Fiedler said later, as he was trying to perform a selfless act for the men and women who give selflessly in the military.

“I’m standing up. You know that kneeling down stuff? I’m doing this exactly because I’m standing up for veterans,” Fiedler said.

Fiedler estimated the value of the items he hauled from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to be around $15,000. He said all he did to get the word out was to post on Facebook.

The long line of vehicles showed the need to help veterans, so Fiedler plans to continue to give away furniture on an annual basis, although he said he might do more between now and next December.