Fairfield Ledger

Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 24, 2014

Scouts share holiday cheer with Habitat family

By ANDY HALLMAN | Dec 30, 2013
Photo by: DIANE VANCE Chrystal Knight, left, Dustin Wickenkamp, center, and their daughter, Hailee, break ground in May on their Habitat for Humanity home at 807 N. Ninth Street in Fairfield. The couple, along with a team of volunteers who worked every Tuesday and Saturday, finished the home in time for the family to move in before Christmas.

Volunteers worked feverishly to finish the Habitat for Humanity house in Fairfield, and now the community is invited to observe the fruits of their labor at a dedication at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dustin Wickenkamp, Chrystal Knight and their children were able to move into the home at 807 N. Ninth Street two days before Christmas. And when they did, they received a pleasant surprise.

The boys in Cub Scout Pack 108 sell Christmas trees as a fundraiser for their club. They knew Dustin and Chrystal had been working around the clock on their new home, and the scouts wanted to give the family a house-warming gift.

A workshop was held at the home the Saturday before Christmas. Once everyone had left, the boy scouts slipped in to prepare their surprise. They brought with them a freshly cut Christmas tree and wreath, along with presents for the couple’s two girls and boy. Before exiting the premises, the troop left a plate of cookies behind.

Scott Timm, leader of Cub Scout Pack 108, said it was great to see the boys band together to welcome a family into their new home.

“The boys had an opportunity to learn the spirit of Christmas by giving presents to people they didn’t know,” he said. “With the family moving into a new house, it was going to be hard for them to have Christmas presents. The boys found gifts they wanted to give them. It was beautiful.”

Timm said the kids loved the experience and look forward to doing it again.

“They hope we’ll be able to sneak into somebody’s home next year, too,” he said.

Knight said she and the kids were completely shocked when they opened the front door. Wickenkamp found out about the tree, wreath and presents earlier in the day, and wanted his family to wait until nightfall so they could see the lights on the front deck and inside the house.

“We were worried about the kids not having a Christmas,” Knight said. “I started to cry, because there were presents all around the tree for all the kids.”

“It about had me in tears, too,” Wickenkamp said.

Knight said her son, Tatum, was “ornery” for a long time but ever since they moved into their house he has been much calmer. Her two daughters, Hailee and Anna, said it is difficult to put into words how great the new house is.

Before moving into a Habitat for Humanity home, each adult must invest 200 hours of “sweat equity.” Knight said she worked more than 300 hours and Wickenkamp put in about 500 hours counting those he spent on his own time and while working for Pilcher Construction, which also donated many manhours to the project.

“I feel I’m in debt to Jesse Pilcher,” Wickenkamp said. “He’s always been a family friend. He put a lot of hours in.”

Dozens of volunteers helped with all stages of the construction every Tuesday and Saturday during the building season. Knight said it feels odd not to have them around anymore.

“I miss them,” she said. “They were all good people for donating their time to build a house for somebody.”

Wickenkamp said the house doesn’t really feel like his own yet because he’s so used to building homes for other people.

“The whole time he felt like he was building a house for somebody else,” Knight said. “He doesn’t believe this is really our house.”

The new home could not have come at a better time for Wickenkamp and Knight. The couple’s Packwood apartment flooded this past spring, forcing them to live in hotel rooms before moving in with family members.

Wickenkamp said he feels a debt of gratitude to Habitat for Humanity and to all the volunteers who made his new house a reality. He said he wants to help build Habitat’s next home.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.