Kenai Peninsula rallies to help 'windshield guy'

Facebook effort nets donation account for man who fixed dings.

Associated PressMay 13, 2012 

KENAI -- Dave Waldal was a familiar sight on a busy Soldotna street corner.

His address is wherever he sets up his tent.

Dressed in camouflage clothing, and accompanied by his black dog, Yankee, Waldal could be spotted offering his services fixing windshield chips for car owners in the Fred Meyer or O'Reilly Auto Parts parking lots.

The Peninsula Clarion reported that came to an end May 4, when someone stole a briefcase containing his windshield-repairing tools.

However, friends Waldal didn't know he had are coming to his assistance.

As of late Friday night, 176 people had joined a Facebook group called "Donate for Dave" to assist the man known as "the windshield guy."

"I'm not the type that normally gets involved with this other than I'll give money, but just the look in his eyes," said David McCamon, the assistant manager at O'Reilly. "He lost his world."

McCamon is helping lead an effort to raise $2,000 or more to buy new tools for Waldal. That would buy Waldal the "best kit available," McCamon said. A 90-day donation account at Alaska USA bank was established, and in a week, about $1,300 had been donated.

The newspaper interviewed Waldal in October, part of a story on how residents planned to use their Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks. Waldal, who's in his 50s, said he planned to buy a tank of propane, a hose, and a heater to get him through the winter.

The former heavy equipment mechanic said at the time that living in a tent in the woods was his choice.

"Why pay rent?" he said with a laugh.

Waldal spends time in Homer, Soldotna and Valdez.

McCamon said he sees Waldal on most days and that they have become good friends. Waldal has never panhandled for food or money, McCamon said, and gets by on the windshield work.

"It gives him purpose," McCamon said. "He is a good guy. He is not out there begging. He is working for his living."

McCamon told Waldal of the Facebook group's effort. McCamon said he isn't a "touchy-feely" guy, he said, but the situation has moved him.

"He found out yesterday that we are doing this, and even one of the young kids that works with me, he goes, 'I can spend my whole life and never see that again -- a man in total humility,'" McCamon said. "When he found that out, he started to cry that people would care that much to do that for him."

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