REDFORD, Mich. — The Arney home is something of a local attraction around the holidays. In 1963, the Arneys planted a blue spruce tree in their front yard, decorating the tree with lights and singing carols with other neighbors. To this day, people still drive by to see if the tree is lit.

It’s only fitting, then, that the neighborhood showed their support for the family by voting for Donald Arney, a U.S. Army veteran, to receive a brand new roof just in time for the holidays.

“It’s just an amazing present,” Donald said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Donald won the roof through Beacon Roofing Supply’s first annual Beacon of Hope contest. The online contest was set up with the goal of providing brand new roofs to deserving veterans around the country. People could nominate an eligible veteran, and from them Beacon selected 10 finalists.

The five finalists who received the most online votes from the public became the winners. The remaining finalists each receive $1,000 to contribute to their repairs. The roofs are scheduled to be completed by spring 2020.

“We had over 100 submissions, and trying to whittle those down to 10 is difficult,” said Brian Link, military program manager for Beacon. “Every one of those people that were in the top 10 got something, which is phenomenal.”

Donald and his wife, Gwen, have been living in their home in Redford for 56 years. Donald served as a battery clerk in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 during the Korean War. For his services, he received the National Defense Service medal and Good Conduct medal.

He married Gwen in 1955 and they moved into their home in 1963. Donald’s father was a businessman who built mobile home parks, so Donald got into the family business, raising six children along the way.

Sara Zivny, one of Arney’s daughters, nominated him without his knowing it. In her submission, she spoke about her father’s devotion to his family and how he helped local high school students by offering them handyman work.

“Growing up, my dad was a hardworking, do-it-yourself business owner that supported and loved his family,” Zivny wrote in the letter.

Zivny drummed up support from the neighborhood as well as alumni from the local high school to help her father receive enough online votes to become a finalist.

“It was a big surprise,” Gwen said. “You don’t just win contests like this.”

Fixing a Crumbling Roof

Beacon selected Pro Home Improvement in Ferndale to complete the work. The crew began working on Dec. 12, just five days before the Arney’s wedding anniversary.

“The chance to partner with Pro Home Improvement on this and to put it to a couple that really needs it is awesome,” said Dean Whitcomb, Michigan district manager for Beacon. “It’s nice to be able to do good things for good people.”

Dave Eades of Pro Home Improvement managed the Arney project. He estimated the roof had been on the home for at least 25 years.

“It had two layers on it, three-tab tear off,” Eades said. “It’s just turning into cookie crumbs as we’re tearing it off.”

The project was estimated to cost around $22,000. CertainTeed donated the shingles while Beacon provided the remaining materials. Eades said between the high-quality materials and five of the seven Pro Home Improvement crew being certified as CertainTeed Wizards, the Arneys will never have to worry about their roof.

“With the peel-and-stick, we replace all the plywood underneath there so we start with a great base,” Eades said. “We do everything 100% the right way.”

The crew completed the job in two-and-a-half days, but Eades said the plan is to come back in the spring to ensure the job is completed properly. As someone with veterans in his own family, Eades said he was happy to be a part of Beacon’s inaugural project.

“It’s humbling, and these people are just very grateful,” Eades said.

Read more about Donald and the other finalists at the Beacon of Hope website.