Published: April 2, 2014
A few months ago, 15-year-old Wes Crockett had no idea where a wacky idea he had for a school project would lead.
The ending couldn't have turned out better.
Last week, a local charity, Crosses for Losses, got something it needed: an ambulance. On Tuesday, Wes got something he really wanted: a vehicle.
It all happened from bartering with family, friends and strangers. Through a series of trades that started with one rare purple Lego,
Wes was able to hand over the keys and title to an ambulance Friday to Amanda Davis, one of the founders of Crosses for Losses.
The nonprofit organization formed to help victims of last summer's Black Forest fire, which killed two people and destroyed 488 homes and damaged hundreds more.
The group of about 50 volunteers still provides free clothing, food, household supplies and other necessities for displaced residents and is priming for this summer's potential blazes with a disaster relief team.
"We've been looking for a disaster response vehicle. This is quite a godsend," Davis said.
"It's not often you get to see kids doing such amazing and selfless things to help out other people they've never even met."
Wes, a sophomore at Discovery Canyon Campus High School, started the project with one goal in mind: seeing if he could continue trading up for better items until he got a car.
He advertised on Craigslist and had support from family, friends from church and teachers - people who traded a wide variety of possessions, such as collectibles, golf balls, a pocket watch and a snowmobile.
The project turned philanthropic after Wes volunteered for Crosses for Losses in February and found out the group really needed transportation.
"We've been using a fleet of about four cars stocked with medical supplies anytime we go out to a natural disaster," Davis said.
Wes decided to do two trading lines, one for himself and one to benefit the nonprofit group.
As the deadline for the school project neared, everything suddenly came together.
He swapped a home gym and a TV for a snowmobile and trailer to a man who lives in Loveland. He sold two snowmobiles and the trailer for $2,000.
He thought about keeping $1,000 for himself, to buy a car, and giving the other half to Crosses for Losses.
"It just didn't feel right," Wes said, "so I decided to put it in God's hands."
After praying about it, he decided to donate the whole amount.
But he needed more money to buy the ambulance. Another $650 in anonymous donations for the cause enabled him to purchase the ambulance from a man in Walsenburg for $2,650.
Davis said she had no doubt Wes could accomplish his goals.
"He's a strong-minded, well-determined young man. And he had the dedication, drive, determination and heart to get it done," she said.
On Tuesday, Wes became the owner of a 1986 Nissan 4x4 pickup. Colorado Springs resident Ray Sevits, a teacher at North Middle School, traded it to him for one purple Lego.
Sevits said he had been thinking about donating the truck to a worthy cause. When looking online for ideas, he came across Wes' project.
"I pretty much knew what I was supposed to do with the truck," Sevits said. "I was impressed and figured his one good deed deserved another."
He didn't want or need what Wes was intending to trade, an air compressor. Sevits wants one purple Lego.
"I will keep it and pass it on to my girls once they have kids, and the story behind it can be passed on with them," he said.
Wes originally had four of the limited-edition Lego pieces. He gave one away in his first trade.
He donated another to Crosses for Losses. Sevits got the third one. Wes is keeping the fourth.
"It ended up being 1,000 times better than I originally thought it would," Wes said. "It felt great to help Crosses for Losses. Helping people is contagious and inspires others."
Wes plans to join the organization's volunteer disaster relief team, Davis said.
Wes is now concentrating on writing a paper about the project - his sophomore year-end finale. It's due Friday.
He's also preparing a presentation he has to deliver at school in a few weeks.
And he's eyeing another goal: getting his driver's license.