Marine Corps veteran living without heat, gas get help from groups, companies

Bill Howe, Veterans 360 among those helping

SAN DIEGO - A local military veteran and his wife living without gas or hot water in their Lemon Grove home are receiving help from two companies and two veterans groups.

Retired Marine Fred Hawkins and his wife, Peggy, are keenly aware of the temperatures dipping into the 30s and 40s overnight. The couple has been living without heat or hot water for the past month.  

"The gas was shut off because the line to the house was leaking," said Fred Hawkins, 74.

"We had to go to our daughter's house in Lakeside to shower and we've been cooking with the microwave," Peggy Hawkins said.

A new gas line was needed in order to get the heat back on, but repairs were estimated at more than $4,000, which the couple -- who are living on a fixed income -- did not have.

The couple's daughter reached out to veterans groups to see if they could help.

"Doing nothing was not an option," said Rick Collins, who founded Veterans 360, a group formed to help young combat veterans.

He and the founder of Veterans of Iraqi and Enduring Freedom started networking.

"We got a good group of people together who said they would pitch in," Collins said.

That group included Home Depot, which donated supplies, and Bill Howe plumbing, which is donating its expertise.

Rick Chavoya, a technician with Bill Howe, said the work is a natural fit for a company that looks to get involved in the community.

"We're really overwhelmed," Fred Hawkins said. "It's a miracle."

The couple should have heat and hot water back on by Christmas.

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