The striking back-lit silhouette of a combat vet stands ready, flanked by his faithful dogs. The “A Soldier’s Love” sculpture is a community service project that comes from the heart. It was created by a team of Lake Superior College Integrated Manufacturing students to help veterans by raising funds for assistance dogs.
LSC student Kathleen Crooks took the lead on the SkillsUSA Club community service project.
“I wanted to help our veterans who have served our country,” said Crooks. “We are using the SkillsUSA club project to raise money for an assistance dog for a local vet. It costs between $10,000 to $60,000 to raise and train one assistance dog. We know how life-changing it is can be for a vet who may suffer from PTSD, a physical injury or other challenges to have an assistance dog.”
Crooks is working with PetsLoyal2Vets, a Burnsville-based nonprofit that connects veterans throughout Minnesota with trained therapy companion dogs at no cost to the veterans.
Crooks followed through by buying and paying for additional materials out of her own pocket to produce a limited edition of 35 of the back-lit sculptures.
“Kathleen’s passion and drive for this project has been impressive, ” said Matt Farchmin, Kathleen’s welding instructor at LSC and SkillsUSA Club advisor. “Her dedication has made this project happen. The team she assembled has gone above and beyond to raise money to help veterans.”
Inspired by a photo of a veteran with his dogs, the piece is designed by LSC alum Spencer Wilenius. The Integrated Manufacturing team put more than 100 hours into making the pieces, starting with the plasma cutting, cleaning, welding, and painting of the steel and finishing the pieces by installing the backlighting. The 23×30-inch sculptures are designed to be wall-mounted. They are available for purchase for $125 through Kathleen Crooks,contact by email at [email protected], or phone, 218/565-8490. All funds raised will go to PetsLoyal2Vets.
Crooks will enter the sculpture in the SkillsUSA Club community service category in the state SkillsUSA’s competition March 31-April 2. Lake Superior College students in Integrated Manufacturing will also compete at the state SkillsUSA conference with numerous welding and machining projects in various categories.