Chip Williams is wasting no time or scraps of wood when it comes to applying his carpentry skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Williams, owner and operator of Chips Handyman Service, has used his time over the past six weeks to build items like birdhouses and flower boxes for free – but on one condition.
The Army veteran who uses scrap wood from other projects to make the items asks people to donate to the Jacksonville Food Bank in lieu of paying.
The organization is close to his heart because of personal experiences going back several years when he was a police officer in Jacksonville.
“I started donating back in ’88 or ’89 when I was with the police,” Williams said. “I’ve seen the starving people firsthand – especially the children here in town.”
Williams and his son, who was a Boy Scout at the time, took part in a food drive.
“I got the police department all together and I got a whole pickup truck with food … people had no idea there were starving children,” he said.
Since then, Williams has been doing what he can to make sure children don’t go hungry.
When the state closed over the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, Williams quickly realized that children – who don’t go to school – and adults without food would suffer.
“On normal weekends, I’ll be browsing, riding my bike, or watching my grandchildren play baseball or my granddaughters play soccer,” Williams said. “Well, that’s out (because of the pandemic) so I have all of this free time. I still had some scraps of wood left over from last winter, so I built about 30 birdhouses on the first weekend. “
Before the pandemic, Williams made small gifts out of scrap wood for his customers’ children. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he hit upon the idea of asking for food donations instead.
So far, Williams has built 52 birdhouses in the past six weeks, and as long as he has the materials, he has no plans to stop.
“As long as I have the wood,” he said. Each bird house takes about 20 minutes.
In addition to birdhouses, Williams also builds flower boxes, small rocking chairs, wind chimes and emblems.
Depending on what project he’s working on, he determines what trash to use, Williams said, adding that patio trash is perfect for flower boxes.
Williams loves to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and often does so on various charity rides, but he is always keen to donate to a cause, including the Marine Corps League.
“I have four or five Harley-inspired projects that they auction,” he said of the Marine Corps League charities.
Toys for Tots is also important to Williams.
“Children shouldn’t do without presents at Christmas,” he said.