To anyone else it was a yellow ribbon, but to Ellen Kunce, the ribbon she proudly displayed on her door was something special.
And then it went missing.
“It means a lot because I was really mad at the neighborhood because somebody stole it and I was upset and cried and everything because it was getting me through the day while he was gone,” Kunce said.
He is Pfc. Ethan Painter, her friend from high school. He's currently serving in the Army overseas. The ribbon was to show her support for her friend fighting for the U.S.
“He's my best friend and it's been really hard with him gone,” Kunce said.
After the ribbon disappeared, she posted a message to a neighborhood Facebook group. Joshua Anderson, a former Marine and local entrepreneur, saw it and felt compelled to help her.
“When I read it, it was something that I found I needed to do, something within my power, within the means I have to show that I care as much as she cares,” Anderson said.
Anderson is also the CEO and founder of Made InMetality, a new custom metal company. He was able to come up with a way to make sure Ellen’s ribbon stayed in place for good.
“It won't rust or weather or deteriorate,” Anderson said.
More than a tie to tradition, Anderson said the yellow ribbon was encouragement and a welcome sign during his four years in the service and tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It gives you a lot of strength. It's always nice knowing that the person left and right of you supports you, and that goes without saying, but to know back at home people are rallying behind you and have all the support, and have your back, and 'have your six' essentially, it really drives you to do a little bit more and care a little bit more,” Anderson said.
The stainless steel ribbon is the first of its kind, but he's hoping more will follow.
“It would be a very successful moment if I could see one block with ribbons on their mailboxes,” he said.
And thanks to Ellen and her post, he's now looking into creating ribbons for other causes.
“She sparked an idea for us to make a ribbon that is permanent that will last forever and will stand the weather and time,” Anderson said.
So anytime Ellen walks through her front door, she'll think of her friend and the kindness of a stranger.
“Just happy, it makes me think of Ethan and what he's doing for us over there,” said Kunce.
Anderson is a graduate of MICA. He started his company three months ago and said several others in the community stepped up by donating supplies and expertise to help him fulfill Ellen’s order.
For more information on Made InMetality, click here.