Building Benches + The Gift of Good

By Kate Riley November 14, 2011

‘Tis the season, right?  Not only for holiday decorating but also for giving back. Last Friday (on Veterans Day) I was honored to be invited to be part of the The Home Depot Foundation and its continuing mission to improve homes and lives for military families.

For the next three years, the Home Depot Foundation is placing special emphasis on serving U.S. military veterans who are facing growing financial and physical hardships at home as they return to civilian life.  Were you aware of this?  The Home Depot Foundation is investing over $30 million (yes, $30 million dollars!) to help ease the burdens of this deserving group by repairing and renovating homes for military veterans. 

hd day of service

Have several extended family members in the service including my own brother, this was my way of showing my appreciation and giving back, so I flew to Atlanta to meet up with several other bloggers (both military and DIY) in this mission to complete 200 service projects within 60 days. 

On arrival, three of us were directed to four piles of wood, a collection of power tools, and one set of plans to build four benches for a community outdoor space. 

Bring. It. On!  Time to bust out a Charlie’s Angels theme, DIY style…

charlies angels stacy lindsay kate

Give us some safety goggles, gloves, and power tools and things will happen. 


Check out my partners in this project, Stacy from Not Just a Housewife pounding nails and Lindsay from Living with Lindsay navigating the plans.  These ladies have serious DIY skills!!!  It was an honor to work side-by-side with them throughout the day.

stacy and lindsay

We did have some help from two Home Depot fellas, thanks guys, we couldn’t have done it without you!  Here is one of our four benches taking shape. 

bench in progress


After five hours, the team of us built four of these solid wood benches for a community outdoor gathering space. They looked amazing at day’s end!  

mendocino bench

Want to build one yourself?  It wasn’t too difficult once we put the pieces of the puzzle together.  The plans come from a non-profit website called KaBoom that’s dedicated to preserving playspaces across the country for kids young and old.  This is the Mendocino Bench and we followed this step by step.   

Other teammates had a separate assignment to build two of these butcher block benches. Want to the full how to for these?  It’s easy!  You’ll need 2 x 4s cut to desired length, some deck screws, and a power screwdriver. 

butcher block bench cg

Full easy to read instructions for this bench right here

Both benches are wonderful in their natural state placed outside, but you could also sand and stain them, or prime and paint them for inside your home. Modify the length too, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to add seating to a deck, mudroom, hallway, or kid space.  

swirl snip

So back to the HD Foundation because here’s where I need your help. I’m looking for a military family in Northern California who has a ‘Wish List’ of services from Home Depot for the Gift of Good Program. 2-3 photos and a brief statement of needs is requested. 

My chosen family is guaranteed to receive $500 worth of goods and holiday décor from Home Depot (personally delivered by me!) and then entered to win a $20,000 prize of home improvements from Home Depot. The family must own their home. I’ll also be asking my local churches and newspaper to help me find this deserving family. 

For the purpose of this program, a military family is defined by a household that includes a resident who is either currently serving or is a veteran of any branch of the U.S. Military.  Please send submissions or nominations to [email protected] subject line: GIFT OF GOOD.  Submissions must be sent by Sunday, November 20th. The nominated family will be confirmed via email on November 28, 2011.  

Please help and send your submissions or nominations ASAP! 




  1. What a great program, and so fantastic how you were able to take part. We always try to do something every year to give back. Last year we adopted a family, to help make their Christmas brighter – hopefully we can find something to do this year again. :)

  2. Thank you for your work with the GIFT OF GOOD program. I have sent a link to the Merced County Blue Star Mothers and asked them to pass it on! (My son just finished serving with the USMC, however does not own a house yet.)

    p.s. After been after the Mr. to build an outdoor bench, love the butcher block one!

  3. What a wonderful program and you all were wonderful to take part in it! Love the benches you built!

  4. What a wonderful program! Kudos to Home Depot! Y’all did a fabulous job and I’m sure the benches will be used and enjoyed for many years :)

  5. Wonderful project and a deserving cause! We had Remembrance Day in the UK on Friday 11/11 to remember those in the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Bless you for running this giveaway.

  6. What beautiful benches! I love the slats on the back of the one you worked on, the big slat and then the little… gives a little interest to just a simple park bench! Great job!

  7. What a great project, Kate. I don’t know of a Northern California family but there are so very many wounded vets coming back who will need physical modifications (ramps, doorways widened) to their homes — I hope you will connect with someone for whom you can make such an impactful difference.

  8. love love LOVE the Charlie’s Angel pose with you three! That’s one for the scrapbooks, definitely. And what a wonderful project for you and the others to be involved in—wonderful creations for a wonderful project!

  9. Was so great to meet you in Atlanta, Kate. Our benches were easy in comparison to the project you took on! So thrilled to be a part of this wonderful project with you!

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)