By Terry Rogers
The Third Annual Home of the Brave “Basket Stuffing” is planned for Tuesday, December 13, from 6 until 9 PM at Arena’s in Milford. The event, created by Patti Persia and her husband Jamie Burk in their home three years ago, is designed to create baskets that contain necessities for veterans who are housed at the Home of the Brave shelters on Sharp’s Road.
“It is more than just providing them with the basic necessities most of us take for granted, but also bring holiday cheer to those who have served our country,” Ms. Persia said. “It is also about letting them know they have not been forgotten, especially during the holidays.” Last year, the event collected more than $8,000 in donations in order to fill 19 baskets for men, women and children housed in the shelter. Mr. Burk said he was amazed at the outpouring of assistance from the community at last year’s event and he and Ms. Persia think this year will be even larger.
The event began when Mr. Burk and Ms. Persia decided to demonstrate to their children what the holidays were really about. At a Knights of Columbus meeting, a veteran mentioned that there were two homeless shelters in Milford specifically for veterans, both operated by the Home of the Brave. Ms. Persia contacted the Home of the Brave who let her know what types of items the veterans could use and she began the process of gathering donations from friends and family.
Approximately 20 people assisted with the first event with baskets put together on the family table, but so many people wanted to help last year, that the event had to be moved to Arena’s in Milford. Ramsey Schrader, owner of Arena’s, donated the space as well as Arena’s gift cards for each basket. Veterans who attended last year were also provided a free meal from Arena’s. Children created cards for the veterans and several Girl Scout Troops were on hand to help fill the baskets.
Donations are being accepted in the form of toiletries and other supplies, such as socks, gloves and hats. In addition, Ms. Persia would like to have gift certificates and bus passes as many of the veterans in the shelter rely on DART to get to appointments and job interviews. Ms. Persia and Mr. Burk will also accept cash donations in order to purchase items that have not been donated. The plan is to fill 21 baskets for 14 men, five women and three children, all housed at the shelter.
Denise Dudley, Care Manager at the Home of the Brave, said that these baskets are critical for some of the vets who sometimes arrive at the shelter with nothing but a backpack holding all their belongings. “It is not unusual for many of these veterans to come to us having been unable to perform basic hygiene for quite some time,” Ms. Dudley said. “These donations mean the veterans do not have to purchase their own personal hygiene products. This is critical because many of them simply cannot afford to buy even the cheapest bottle of shampoo or deodorant.” It is important to note that these types of items are needed at the shelters throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. Ms. Dudley said that there are some veterans’ organizations and other civic groups who donate to them other times throughout the year, but there is always a need.
Donations are welcome at the Home of the Brave as they work to transition veterans into their own housing. To do this, they often need things like clothing, appliances and other household items in order to get a veteran set up in their own household. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army no longer accept television sets, but the Home of the Brave will accept even older model sets that veterans can use as they transition from the shelter to their own home.
The mission of the Home of the Brave is to reduce homelessness among military veterans. The organization provides transitional housing as well as food and security. Veterans who are housed at the shelters are provided with employment, counseling services, access to healthcare and transportation. Once it is determined they are able, Home of the Brave works with the veteran to find them affordable permanent housing which leads to personal independence. Veterans can stay at the shelters for up to two years, Ms. Dudley explained. There are two shelters in Milford currently, both now located on Sharp’s Road.
“These veterans would be homeless without the Home of the Brave,” Ms. Persia said. “We want to help them in any way we can.” Donations can be delivered to Arena’s on the night of the event or anyone wishing to donate can reach out to Ms. Persia via email at Theclothspring@gmail.com or by phone at 302-745-1790.
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