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Silver Sage replaces county veteran’s RV after fire

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Seventy-six-year-old Bandera County resident and Vietnam veteran Charles O’Neal got a welcome surprise this week.

Recently, O’Neal lost everything in a fire at his home in Wharton’s Dock. O’Neal escaped the fire with only the clothes he was wearing.

Art Crawford and the Silver Sage Center heard about the disaster. They stepped in and raised $8000 in a half hour with a Facebook call to the Bandera community.

“I was really pleased,” said Crawford. “The donations came in small amounts from many people around the community. We also received a $3,000 grant from SBPusa headquartered in New Orleans,” said Crawford.

SBPusa has provided Crawford and the Sage with a grant previously to help with assistance to senior citizens affected by the February freeze.

“This just shows how the community can come together to help,” remarked Bandera resident Derek Falardeau at the homecoming celebration on Tuesday.

Using these donations, Silver Sage purchased a 30-foot 2004 Keystone travel trailer for O’Neal.

Serendipitously, the trailer was being used by a couple just three blocks away in Wharton’s Dock as they waited for their double wide to be delivered to their property. The double wide was delivered, and the couple generously offered the travel trailer to Crawford for a nominal price when they learned it was for a senior citizen.

Using a portion of the donations, Silver Sage also purchased a new mattress, RV refrigerator and small household items to furnish the trailer. Jesse Parks and Helping Hands provided clothing, kitchen items and bedding to finish out the project.

Silver Sage volunteers cleaned up the debris from the burned structure and cleared the site of brush.

The remaining money went to providing a new electrical line and running a new water line. O’Neal’s previous water line had broken in February during the winter storm.

“We just wanted to do it right,” said Crawford.

“Thank y’all for everything,” O’Neal exclaimed as he arrived in a truck with Crawford to begin the celebration.

The snug trailer was open, and visitors could walk through to see what work had been done.

As a loquacious O’Neal sat outside with guests on Tuesday and chatted, County Commissioner Jody Rutherford and wife Carolyn spoke with Crawford and others present about the project.

Rutherford pledged his support and assistance to Silver Sage for any future projects to assist seniors.

Crawford wanted to extend special thanks to SBPusa for their generous grant, salvage artists Steve and Heather Jones of Zoka Jo’s, and Brent and Brook at Berties Dumpster, Excavating and Demolition in Pipe Creek for their much-needed assistance.

For more information on the Silver Sage Community Center, contact Executive Assistant Karyn Utterback at or call at (830) 796-4969.