Community stands behind veteran's soon-to-be Habitat home

By Beau Ebenezer

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 9:46 AM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- A petition that started in a Morton subdivision has neighbors and business owners rallying around a local veteran and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Peoria.

The issue started with a petition that began circulating around Cyprus Avenue, asking neighbors to oppose a Habitat for Humanity home made of wood at the end of the street.

That home will belong to Brian Wood's family.

Wood is a Sargent in the Army National Guard and also served in Afghanistan.

The petition protested the home because it did not include brick siding to match the rest of the homes in the neighborhood.

After outrage about the petition spread through the area, some neighbors are coming forward to welcome the veteran and his family.

"We're going to go over there and volunteer for it when they start," said would-be neighbor, Matt Sommer. "We want them in our neighborhood badly. Morton wants them too."

"We don't want anyone to feel unwelcome in Morton or anywhere," said Marie Arendell, owner of Schooners in Morton. "I decided I would post something on Facebook, and if anyone wants to bring in a gift certificate or a donation, they can. They can drop it off here at Schooners. We'll get a basket together and we'll present it to them."

Schooners has already received hundreds of dollars in donations for the family in just one day.

Habitat officials said brick siding was included in the plans for the front of the house, but they may eventually have enough money to do the entire home.

Construction is expected to begin in April or May.

The person who started the petition could not be reached and it is unknown how many residents signed it.

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