FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2012) -- Members of the U.S. Army Combatives School and Both Hands organization came together with House of Heroes Friday and Saturday to work on the home of Gertrude Collins of Smith Stations, Ala. Gertrude's husband, retired 1st Sgt. Thomas Collins, who was a 21-year Army veteran, passed away 10-weeks ago.
"This is the first time ever that Both Hands organization has partnered with House of Heroes and it's like a perfect marriage because it's the same concept and the same goals," said Amanda Caroll, team leader.

Both Hands is a nonprofit organization that helps both widows and orphans.

Due to the extensive damage both inside and outside the home, Amanda said she and members of her Sunday school class at Wynnbrook Baptist Church came to the Collins' house three to four times a week for three weeks in order to prep for this past weekend.

Staff Sgt. Alexis Mestre, one of the Soldiers who helped in the restoration, said several Soldiers participated in the project to help in any way they could.

"We're like jack-of-all-trades, but we don't know too much about anything -- so we're just having fun out here and helping them out," he said. "It's a lot of work."

He described the experience as humbling and said "one of these days you might need help."

Amanda and her husband, Jeff Campbell, from Both Hands partnered with House of Heroes as a way to both help and raise money for adoption expenses for a 9-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl from India.

"It works like a 5K race or golf for charity event, but instead of running or playing golf, we're working on a widow's house," Amanda said. "And so all the materials have been donated by local merchants."

Work completed on the house included replacing siding at the bottom of the house, cleaning the exterior and interior of the house, removing trees, replacing living room window and assembling patio swing.

For more information about House of Heroes, visit