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Dream home for a hero

Organization, bank donate house to military family

Dream home for a hero

Dream home for a hero

U.S. Army Sgt. Jerry Castor, right, a...

A dream turned to reality this week when members of military family crossed the threshold of their new, renovated Bulloch County home — one that came with no price tag.

Following weeks of waiting, wishing and wondering, U.S. Army Sergeant Jerry Castor and wife Kristina learned last month that they would be the new owners of a home donated, with no strings attached, by the nonprofit organization Operation Homefront and Wells Fargo Bank.

After a long trip down from Fort Bragg, N.C., the couple were finally handed the keys and provided a full tour during a ceremony held Thursday afternoon.

Joyful and emotional, the Castors, with 1-year-old daughter Riley, marveled at the new Westover Drive residence.

"It is more than I ever could have imagined — a dream come true," Jerry Castor said. "I am just speechless. We're looking forward to spending a life here.

"I will never have to move some place new again," he added.

The Castors will move into the new home after living in Army-provided housing, during recent years, in North Carolina. Jerry Castor is retiring from duty because of an injury, having served in Afghanistan and in Haiti, in the wake of a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country.

The home comes courtesy of Operation Homefront's "Homes on the Homefront" program, which partners with banks and other major financial services companies to acquire, renovate and donate homes to military veterans.

To be considered, the Castors applied for the program, found a home they loved, and underwent an interview process.

"The waiting game was the hardest. We prayed for it for quite a while, and knew if it was meant to be, then it would be," said Kristina Castor. "We are very appreciative to everyone. The house is beautiful and we are very excited."

Said Jerry Castor: "We saw this house, both fell in love with it, and applied to the program. When we found out that we would have it, I was in tears. I couldn't talk. It was more overwhelming than anything. I wasn't expecting it."

The family is looking forward to getting on with life in a new community. The Castors will add a new member in a matter of days — Kristina Castor is pregnant with a baby boy. Jerry Castor said he will seek opportunities for work as a firefighter or golf professional, and plans to soon attend Georgia Southern University.

The Castors' new home is the first in Statesboro donated to a military veteran by Operation Homefront and Wells Fargo.

Formed in February 2002, Operation Homefront was developed to support the families of deployed service members. The organization currently provides services to military families across the nation with 23 locations serving 43 states.

Wells Fargo routinely works throughout communities in which it has a presence to donate real estate properties. The company has donated more than 55 properties to veterans this year.

"It is an honor to be here and be able to donate this home, and thank the Castors for serving our country," said Jackie Burke, the store manager for the local Wells Fargo branch. "We are very committed to serving our military members and helping them with their financial needs."

Wells Fargo has committed $35 million to benefit military members, veterans and their families in the future, $30 million of which will be used for home donations, according to Robert Blair, a banker and broker associate with the local branch.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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