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Super Senior: The ‘Wood Angels’

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 1:12 PM EST
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DUMMERSTON, Vt. (WCAX) - On his land in Dummerston, you’ll likely find Charlie Richardson working the woods.

The retired forester loves being outside. “I love it, never worked a day in my life,” Richardson said. The 87-year-old’s vocation has turned into an avocation -- helping others stay warm. “A lot of different issues with people... They need help.”

Charlie and his chainsaw took me for a ride miles away to show me what he started nine years ago. A wood pantry for those who need help with heat. It’s been especially needed this year. “We’ve distributed more wood, yeah,” Richardson said.

He says the area had an exceptional amount of rain last spring that made it hard for wood to dry. Recently, he served a mother with a six-month-old who had wet wood and couldn’t get her home above 60 degrees. The next day, a 93-year-old had the same issue.

Richardson doesn’t do all the cutting, splitting, and stacking alone though. Meet the rest of the “Wood Angels” -- Don Hazelton, 91, Merrill Barton, 74, and Cliff Bergh, 75, the newest to the group.

“As we pass here, there used to be wood there, but now it’s gone -- off to be delivered and such,” Bergh said.

Richardson says if you can get a cord of dry wood, it will set you back $400 bucks. That’s why the location of the wood pantry is undisclosed. The Wood Angels will help anyone in need, no questions asked. The wood is stacked high up a hill with ample winds to allow it to dry quicker. “We’re fortunate to do this at our age,” Richardson said.

But there are no chores on this day. Those winds and frigid temps bring us to the center of town for a little church chat. Richardson is an active member of the Dummerston Congregational Church, which sponsors the program.

“I didn’t know ‘em much until we started the wood pantry,” Barton said.

The group has become a team. Spring is when they are the busiest splitting the logs. “If you had to hire us by the hour, a cord of wood would cost a fortune!” said Hazelton, the elder of the group. “Everyone in town cusses me out because I’m down there alone. But if I die in the woods, I die happy.”

“For us -- I think I can speak for everybody here -- it gives us a purpose. You get up in the morning and you have a purpose,” Richardson said.

Four Super Seniors who warm the bodies and hearts of those in need.

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