Community residents asked to support homeless veterans with a small, meaningful purchase
By LOIS KINDLE
The Military Family Support Trust, Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza, Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and Humana have partnered to provide backpacks filled with supplies for homeless veterans. Through its representative Frank Feder, Humana (a strong supporter of the VFW) is donating 100 sturdy backpacks to be filled with new supplies donated by the public.
Tampa Crossroads, a nonprofit organization in Tampa that serves homeless veterans daily, will identify homeless vets of both sexes and help distribute the backpacks to them. Some of the backpacks will also be available at a special event hosted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Sept. 10 at Sacred Heart Academy, 5616 N. Florida Ave.
“Our committee is always looking for ways to give back to veterans,” said Lynne Conlan, the chamber’s executive director. “And we’re so proud to be affiliated with ROC, the Military Family Support Trust and Humana to help our area’s homeless veterans.”
Connie Lesko, of ROC and a member of the chamber’s committee, feels equally honored to be involved.
“It’s disheartening that people who actually served our country are living on the streets, regardless of whatever landed them there,” she said. “As Americans, we can all give back to them in this small way.”
From now through Sept. 10, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Sun City Center Plaza, will accept items, such as new socks, personal hygiene/personal care products and the like, and you can simply drop off a donation in a special bin at the front of the office Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Retired Officers Corporation and MFST offices are spearheading the campaign to collect requested donations at Freedom Plaza. Residents or area residents are asked to drop off items at either office or at the front desk.
Items needed (new only):
- Socks: ankle, crew, men’s, women’s
- Refillable water bottles
- Cereal bars, granola bars
- Small packages of Kleenex or other tissues
- Sealed hand wipes, like wet naps
- Hand sanitizer
- Nail clippers
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Disposable razors
- Lip balm or Chapstick
- Brushes, combs
- Safety pins
- Cough drops, gum
- Lifesavers, hard candies
- Trail mix, dried fruit
- Packages of nuts
- Heavy, disposable eating utensils
- Canned pork & beans, tuna, chicken, Vienna sausage
- Hand towels
- Can openers
- New, large or extra-large T-shirts
- Playing cards
- Dollar store gift cards
- Handwritten notes of encouragement
Tax-deductible checks made out to MFST, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, will also be accepted and used to purchase items.
“We will be good stewards of all items donated in excess of what’s needed,” said Jane Keegan, ROC president. “If you’re willing to give an item on the list, we will make sure it goes to the homeless.”
Any questions can be directed to Keegan at 813-380-4788 or Lesko at 813-927-1147.