Soldier comes home to find 'fixer-upper' fixed

May 24, 2012 (UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill.)

Sgt. Jimeshia Rice is home on a 2-week leave. The 28-year-old arrived to find a big surprise -- staff at the Home Depot in Homewood had spent a week and $50,000 remodeling the fixer-upper she bought two years ago.

"She gave her time, risked her life for all the freedoms people have today," Ralph Strocchio, Vietnam veteran, said.

"We basically chose her, a good customer, had been working on her house throughout the year, in here every day. And she told us she was going to Afghanistan," Sherwana Roberson, Home Depot store manager, said.

The night before Rice was deployed, she spent her time at Home Depot picking out counter tops. But it wasn't until she arrived home from Afghanistan that she learned she wouldn't be spending her leave time working on that house. Or the yard, which was landscaped by the crew.

"Overwhelming, I'm excited and truly grateful. I'm honored," Rice said.

Sgt. Rice joined the army as a way to pay for education and to be with her uncle and cousin. They were both killed in Iraq. Rice said their memory is what keeps her going.

Rice is in the middle of a one-year tour in Afghanistan. She also did a tour in Iraq.

After her military service is over, Rice wants to join the University Park Police Department.

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