For service members, the United States military offers a number of benefits, including health care, various facilities, and even, in some cases, free or discounted travel. The military generally assists with burial and funeral expenses, but the amounts can vary, and often don’t cover certain expenses.
Ine Cambria County man, hoping to find money to pay for his funeral and burial decades after his military service, decided that he could raise a few dollars by selling his worldly possessions. Thankfully, the kindness of strangers stepped in to help ensure that this Navy veteran got the funds he needed.
Willie Davis has spent the last few weeks selling his possessions under a blue tarp in a yard sale in Brownstown, Pennsylvania.
He told people who stopped by that he was hoping to raise money for a funeral, and asked them to, if they could, tell friends and neighbors that he was looking to sell everything he owned.
Davis is a veteran of the United States Navy, who spent six years in service, beginning in 1970. He served during the Vietnam War.
Now, he’s suffering from the end stages of terminal squamous cell carcinoma.
He’s worked selling everything he owned in hopes of raising enough funds to afford a burial on a plot that his parents owned in Culpeper, Virginia.
Making this final dream a reality, however, is not necessarily cheap. It could wind up costing as much as $15,000.
Thankfully, Davis received reinforcement from two strangers who saw a man in need and decided to do a good deed.
Last month, David Dunkelberger bought a few small items from the Navy vet, and heard his story.
When he learned the suffering man was raising money for a funeral, he asked the question that any polite person would ask, and inquired about whose ceremony he was hoping to fund.
Davis replied that it was for his own.
When Dunkelberger heard that, he was unsettled, so he went back to his car to tell a friend, Ed Sheets, the story.
Sheets said that the pair decided to do everything that they could to help him out, and so began a GoFundMe account.
Their goal was simple, raise $5,000, in order to help meet the final expenses.
They wanted to help a man who, even though he’s in poor health, in and out of hospice care, has repeatedly showed up on Thursday to run his yard sale on Friday and Saturday.
The pair said that they received support from strangers across the nation, people who had never met Mr. Davis and who had never been to Brownstown or Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but who saw a man in need and wanted to help.
The GoFundMe account, which was born on August 5, a day after Dunkelberger met the aged man, blew through its first goal.
Looking to raise $5,000 to help pay for a third of the projected maximum cost for Davis’ wishes, donations from 1,905 people ended up raising $60,399 as of the time of this writing.
Willie Davis, flush with newfound cash, thanked his newfound friends, Dunkelberger and Sheets.
He also said that, because the funds raised had outstripped what he needed in order to have a decent funeral, he wanted to use the extra money to help other vets who needed funeral assistance.
The Navy vet went on to say that he believed that the best way to do that would be to start a foundation, and that he would continue to research the best way to begin such an entity.
In a proud tradition of service to others that the United States military has become famous for, the man decided to dedicate himself to others.
The GoFundMe account is still taking in funds, and continues to grow by the hour.
Thanks to the efforts of two individuals, a veteran will be able to afford his funeral and burial, and other vets in need will be benefited as well.