Making a Difference: 94-year-old veteran carves walking sticks to raise money for local food bank

MIAMI VALLEY — “He is the kindest man I have ever known.” More than once that is how Mark Hobson described his 94 year old father, John, while talking with WHIO’s James Brown.

John and Mark invited James to stop by their workshop for a visit on their Greene County property a few months back. James saw a picture of Mark late last fall standing along the country road in front of John’s house. The sign said, “walking sticks, crafted by a … veteran.”

You know the ole’ saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” That was a understatement.

>> Making A Difference

Turns out John is Making a Difference in a way he could have never imagined.

When the Coronavirus Pandemic hit, John was stuck at home. He’s never been one to just sit around. He grabbed a knife and started shaving the bark off old sticks and turn them into walking sticks.

John said, “why do I whittle, i just kind of do it, enjoy doing it.” He kept at it, and on July 4th, 2020, he had some extended family over to celebrate.

Mark said “we sold about 20 sticks that day and hardly anybody pays three bucks, always donate a little more.”

There were some sticks left over so Mark and John set up a sign on along the road that said three dollars for a walking stick. All the money was going to the Xenia Fish Food Pantry to help by food for needy families in Greene County. The family took a picture of John and his sign, and put it on Facebook.

The Hobson family got requests from people everywhere. John could not keep up. But with the money left in the jar along the road, and people donating to the pantry, John’s “stick shop” has raised enough money to buy more than 130 thousand pounds of food. Xenia Fish Food Pantry’ Gail Matson said, “its not the sticks, it’s the man, his story, him doing something for somebody else.”

John and Mark hope people who see this story remember to look around and see who might need a little extra help from time to time. And never take for granted who you are next to on life’s journey. All from a man who calls himself an ole’ country boy. Call him whatever you want, Mr. John Hobson is “Making a Difference.”