This is one of those stories that can’t help but warm your heart.
Last March 14, a powerful tornado ripped through the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. News about the damage to large buildings dominated headlines as this close encounter with a heavily-developed metropolitan area threatened thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of property. The tornado – with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour – claimed three lives. However, the death toll could have been much higher but for a Southeast Conference championship basketball game that went to overtime, keeping the sizable crowd indoors as the storm passed.
While the major damage caught the attention of the public, the storm also tore through other, more quiet areas of the city, notably the historic Oakland Cemetery. Caretakers at the historic site observed that more than 60 mature trees were toppled, and hundreds of grave markers were damaged or destroyed in the violent winds.
Rather than watch the historic trees be ground into mulch, Atlanta-area woodworker Stephen Evans decided he would so something about it. Shortly after the damage, he arranged to have the downed trees sawn into usable lumber. He is drying the wood right now for what will become a very interesting project.
What Evans has planned is to build a piece of furniture from the historic trees that will be sent to auction. All proceeds from the sale of the piece will help pay for repairs to the cemetery. The piece he has in mind is a white oak bench.
Since he came up with the idea, other woodworkers and artists have stepped forward to build other pieces – including platters, jewlery and sculpture – to auction off to further help the effort.