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Community comes together to surprise Santaquin Army vet with new roof

Published: Monday, March 10 2014 2:40 p.m. MDT

George Hoffman can't believe what he is seeing. Friday, March 7, 2014, after dozens of volunteers came to when he wasn't home and put a new roof on his house in Santaquin.

Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

SANTAQUIN, Utah County — Life has brought a lot of ups and downs to George Hoffman, but it was kindness of strangers that had him in tears.

The Army veteran left his house Friday morning and returned a few hours later to find a brand new roof installed by complete strangers from the surrounding community.

Last fall, Hoffman met with roofer Mark Martineau to see how much it would cost to fix his roof that was damaged from strong winds.

“I gave him a price, and he said he would have to save enough money for next year to do the roof,” Martineau said.

Martineau found out that Hoffman is an Army veteran who moved to Utah from Wyoming two years ago for a better job for his family. That was enough for Martineau to want to help him, but, when he discovered the reason why Hoffman didn't have the money right away, he started thinking of doing it for free.

Hoffman's daughter had a brain tumor removed when she was 3 months old. She has been cancer-free for a year this week.

“I've been thinking about him for a long time, and he's never left my mind,” Martineau said. “Just for what he's done and what his family has been though with his daughter having cancer.”

Martineau spread Hoffman's story and his plan on Facebook and his blog, and, within hours, he had people volunteering.

Martineau got Hoffman's wife to get him out of the house for a couple of hours. Nearly 30 volunteers came to donate their time and talents as they installed a brand new roof on the Hoffmans' house — all with donated materials by Roofers Supply Co. It took 4 ½ hours to tear off the old roof and put on a new one.

When Hoffman's wife returned him to the house, he broke down in tears.

“We just want to say thank you for what you've done, and God bless you,” Hoffman told the volunteers and then hugged every one of them.

“It's just amazing,” Hoffman said. “I mean, just the heart and the love.”

Martineau wouldn't even let Hoffman buy lunch for the guys.

“My heart goes out to these guys. It means a lot,” Hoffman said. “How do I repay it? … The only thing I can do is pay it forward, and that's all I say is pay things forward. … If someone helps you out, help the next person out that you can.”

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com

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