Community shows support for veteran

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The Liberty Hill community assisted the family of disabled veteran Ray Coffee (center) at a fundraiser Saturday. From left are Lana Henley, Margarita’s Restaurant owner Amin Berenji, Ray and Melanie Coffee, and Gary Henley of Henley Homes. (Kathy Canady Photo)

The Liberty Hill community assisted the family of disabled veteran Ray Coffee (center) at a fundraiser Saturday. From left are Lana Henley, Margarita’s Restaurant owner Amin Berenji, Ray and Melanie Coffee, and Gary Henley of Henley Homes. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By SEAN SHAPIRO

Moving from the Houston area to Liberty Hill could have been very difficult for the Coffee family.

Instead, they are already feeling welcomed by the community after a fundraiser in their honor this past Saturday.

“It’s tough moving away from family in Houston,” Melanie Coffee said. “But we already feel like we’re part of the family here. To see what the community did is amazing.”

The Coffees are moving to Liberty Hill thanks to Operation Finally Home, which provides mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans.

Melanie’s husband, Clifton “Ray” Coffee, served two tours of duty in Iraq and was injured in 2004 by an improvised explosive device. After the explosion he has dealt with a series of long-term injuries and the new home, which is currently being built in Santa Rita Ranch, will be completely handicap accessible.

While Operation Finally Home is providing the home, the organization did not have anything to do with the fundraiser Saturday.

Instead, the community came together at Margarita’s Restaurant for a benefit auction and fun run. Close to $3,000 was raised for the family — funds the family thought was being raised for the home-building process.

“After the event we were ready to leave, but they called us over for a picture and then told us it was for us, to help with the other things,” Mrs. Coffee said. “That was a surprise, I thought it was just a fundraiser to help cover costs of the house.”

While they weren’t involved, representatives from Operation Finally Home took notice of the community’s actions.

“As a fellow veteran it does my heart good,” said Daniel Vargas, vice president of family matters and community outreach for Operation Finally Home. “It’s less than one percent of our country that is out there protecting us. To see the rest step up and show they care, that really is amazing to see. It’s really a chance to see the best our country has to offer.”

The Coffee family is currently living in a rental home while their new home is being built. Mrs. Coffee said the move before the school year helped their children – Brianna, Cody and Justin – get acclimated to their new schools while the new house is being built.

“It really has helped, and I think they realize that,” she said. “My youngest, Justin, was bummed about moving because he was going to be a big football star for junior high there. But he’s fit in and he’s really enjoying it.”

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