A Bartlesville man is using his passion and creativity to show his thanks and appreciation to veterans and first responders.
He said he hasn’t been able to give back to his community with big sums of money, but he hopes the gifts he is making, stay with families for generations.
“I spend so much time in my shop building these flags," Daryl Thomas, Rustic Flags for Veterans Foundation Founder, said.
How do you say thank you? How do you say I appreciate you, to men and women who have made life changing sacrifices?
"I don't go off of plans," said Thomas. "Everything is custom,"
How do you show your gratitude to a police officer? A firefighter? A veteran?
“My only regret in this project is that I didn't start doing this sooner," said Thomas.
Some people donate money, some people make food, but Daryl Thomas makes wooden flags. Sometimes he makes those flags with the help of his youngest son Manny.
"Personally, I am not a veteran. I am not a first responder, never have been,” Thomas said. “I am just a patriotic American who loves his country and wants to tell people who serve this country thank you.”
His passion project started with three flags he made for the veterans his son invited to a school Veterans Day program.
"I saw tears. It made me want to do more," said Thomas.
The project grew and evolved and is now The Rustic Flags For Veterans Foundation.
Each one of these flags takes days to make. Thomas has given them to veterans, police officers, firefighters, troopers- men and women who are sacrificing their lives and time for the greater good.
”I recently finished a large batch of flags, 180 flags, for the Tulsa Police Department and gave those to the Mingo Valley division," said Thomas.
All the money spent on supplies and the hours of hard work are worth it when it's time for the actual gift giving.
"It is very touching just to see how people react," said Daryl’s wife Stephanie Thomas.
"It is a meaningful piece of wood that has been built by a man who is really supporting our veterans," said Army Veteran Randi Olsen.
It is an unforgettable moment for everyone involved and a thank you that will last for generations to come.
"Every time that I feel like I am saying thank you and blessing someone with a tangible gift, I walk away as the one feeling the reward," said Thomas.