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Hundreds of Central Texans find connection through 'Chair Man'

Posted at 5:15 AM, Mar 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-25 07:54:19-04

COPPERAS COVE, TX — A Central Texas man is taking social media by storm after a woman posted about being gifted a little handmade chair.

Devan Bennett said she was at Walmart in Copperas Cove when she met 83-year-old James Butler.

The Vietnam veteran offered her a handmade chair for her son.

Bennett said the gift is one that has been received by hundreds of people in Central Texas.

Butler started making the chairs over 20 years ago.

"My great-great-granddaughter was about two-years-old and I decided I was going to make her a table and chairs, so I wound up making two chairs and a table," Butler said.

The chairs he made for his great-granddaughter were the first of thousands.

"I tried to count, but once I got to about 1,025 I stopped," Butler said.

Butler builds the little chairs to give to children in the Central Texas community.

"We go around and I happen to spot a little one that looks like it's a candidate and I will just give him a little chair," Butler said. "If you tell someone you are going to go get them a chair, I can only imagine what goes through their mind."

Bennett received one of his chairs while she was at Walmart with her son.

"I saw the buggy in his cart and I had to have one so I asked my momma to ask him where he was," Bennett said. "My momma asked him about the chair and he said 'Well, I actually give them away."

The gift is a gesture Bennett said means more to her than anyone will ever know.

"My son may not be able to understand, but it means a lot to me, like 'Sir you have touched me in a way that you will never be able to know or understand what it means,'" Bennett said.

Bennett's papa use to build chairs for her, but he passed away in 2012.

Bennett is now a mother of a 4-month-old and she was worried about her son never getting to receive a gift like the ones her papa use to make for her, until now.

"I still have his old wicker chairs in my kitchen and whenever I lost him, my world took a tumble and when that gentlemen was like here is a chair, I mean it just resembled so much of my papa and for him to give my son that chair was a big part that I didn't think he would ever get to have," Bennett added.

Butler said it's stories like the one Bennett told that will keep him building chairs to give to kids for years to come.

Since Bennett made the post on social media about the kind gesture, hundreds of people have posted photos of their kiddos in the chairs.

If you have a photo with one of your children in a chair built by James, you can email it to butlerjrb@hotmail.com.