Amvets Post 59 hosts ‘Giving Tree’ to feed and clothe homeless vets
HANOVER TWP. — Inside Amvets Post 59 on Fellows Avenue sits a Christmas tree decorated not just with ornaments, but with words.
“Socks,” “blankets,” “gloves,” just to name a few, are written on handmade ornaments adorning the tree.
It’s more than just decoration: it’s the Giving Tree, an effort started by the Amvets last year to feed, clothe and provide much-needed warmth to homeless veterans around the area.
“We made ornaments for it, and on the back of them are different items … everything that homeless people would need,” said Tammy Wenger, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and member of Post 59 who helped spearhead the Giving Tree project. “We take the items and we go out and distribute them to our homeless veterans.”
While the Amvets post’s effort to assist homeless veterans has been going on for years, the Giving Tree is a relatively new initiative for the post, started last year by Wenger in partnership with the Edwardsville-based nonprofit Forward Support Base (FSB).
“The Amvets work very closely with FSB,” Wenger said. “We decided to do a tree … we made ornaments, we had fun doing it.”
Much to Wenger’s delight, it didn’t take long last year before one local family stepped in to help out in a major way.
“Last year, we had a family that came in and took all the ornaments off, and bought everything … and they’re doing that again this year,” Wenger said.
“They didn’t want to be mentioned, they don’t want their name out there, they just do it out of the goodness of their heart … it gets you choked up.”
Amvets Post 59 commander Mike Price, elected to the post earlier this year, was pleased to see the generosity of the community shine through for such a crucial cause.
“To see what people bring in and how much charity they have in their hearts, it’s awesome,” Price said.
Once the donations are accumulated (in addition to items off the Giving Tree, Amvets Post 59 is also accepting monetary donations that will also be dispersed to homeless vets), Amvets heads out into the community to distribute the items to the homeless, often finding those in need under bridges and behind buildings.
These distributions are held monthly, along with outreach trips made by Amvets and FSB that will take supplies to area homeless gatherings like at Camp Orchard Hill on Dallas, where supplies will be handed out on Dec. 17. The organizations will hold a similar outreach event in the Harrisburg area on Jan. 17.
“We work very closely with Amvets,” said Frank Perk, from FSB. “We’re separate organizations, but we’re like family.”
Those familial bonds extend not just through the Amvets and the FSB Initiative, but to all servicemen and servicewomen, including the homeless veterans that Wenger, Perk and everyone involved with the Giving Tree are working tirelessly to support.
“The more people give, and the more donations, the more we can serve homeless veterans,” Perk said.
The Giving Tree will be up and running inside Post 59 through Christmas, and anyone looking to make a monetary donation could stop by the post, located at 578 Fellows Ave. in Hanover Township.
Every donation counts, and will go a long way toward assisting those who served this country and have fallen on hard times.
“This is a cause near and dear to all of our hearts,” Wenger said. “This is our main goal — to help homeless veterans.”