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BURLINGTON, N.C. — It started out as a small gesture … and has become a national program.

“Anywhere we can find a wounded veteran – it’s a Purple Hearter that we’re after,” says Bud Shepherd, a World War II veteran, himself.

Shepherd already runs a company called REA, in Burlington, which helps lower-income people have all the essentials that they need.

He and his colleagues at REA got the idea that sending a box full of tools to wounded veterans could transform their lives, once they are out of the service.

“It gives them a purpose,” says Stephen Baker, who helps run the program. “We try to throw some extras – some different stuff – that makes the guys say, ‘Wow, what is this? Let’s figure out what we can do with this tool.”

Hundreds of dollars worth of tools, all donated, by companies like Stanley Black & Decker.

“You wouldn’t believe the reaction we’re getting from these guys,” says Shepherd. “When they open the box and unpack it all, all they can say is, ‘Oh, my gosh!'”

Meet the men and women who receive the toolboxes and the surprising people who have come to help the program grow, in this edition of the Buckley Report.