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Army Sergeant Gets Home Makeover From Admiring Community

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Army Sgt. Jimesha Rice of University Park got a hero's welcome this week -- and a free home rehab. (Handout)

Army Sgt. Jimesha Rice of University Park got a hero’s welcome this week — and a free home rehab. (Handout)

Derrick Blakley Derrick Blakley
Derrick Blakley is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Talk about a whirlwind week: A south suburban veteran who just returned from Afghanistan got quite a surprise Monday on what she thought was a routine shopping trip.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.

Army Sgt. Jimeshia Rice got a hero’s welcome — complete with blazing sirens and a police and fire escort.

What she didn’t know immediately is the University Park fixer-upper she bought two years ago had been all fixed up for her.

Three Home Depot stores collaborated on a total-gut rehab; a new kitchen and appliances; new flooring and a new paint job with fresh carpeting. Total cost was more than $50,000.

“She went six months to Afghanistan, so we wanted to do something for her. But we had at the beginning no idea it would turn into this,” Home Depot’s Sherwana Roberson says.

For Sgt. Rice, military service and sacrifice runs in her family. She lost an uncle and a cousin in Iraq.

“I feel honored, and I’m doing it in their name as well. I was kind of the baby, and I was the last to go in. I don’t have my big brothers anymore,” she said.

But Rice can’t become too attached to her renewed home. She’s halfway through her tour and returns to Afghanistan in two weeks.

The Home Depot became familiar with Sgt. Rice because she and her parents are frequent customers.

Sgt. Rice should be home for good by November. She hopes to become a police officer, right in her hometown of University Park.

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