By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Little Falls Rotary Club has started to collect items to be dispersed to homeless and near-homeless veterans. The Club is asking for the community’s help.
The Minnesota Action Council for Veterans (MACV) sponsors StandDowns across the state to help veterans. The events are held in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, Rochester, Mankato, Duluth, International Falls, Grand Rapids and Detroit Lakes.
At these StandDowns, hundreds of homeless veterans are provided with necessities which include food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance. They also get job counseling and referrals. But most importantly, they get companionship and camaraderie.
Veterans can get a hair cut, assistance with their taxes, glasses, a hot meal, help with housing, connect with chemical dependency services and get clothing and hygiene kits.
This is a hand up, not a handout and is a time when the community is able to connect with the homeless veterans population and address the crisis that affects much of Minnesota.
In 2012, MACV held the annual Twin Cities event at Fort Snelling and the two-day event drew nearly 900 veterans looking for services from about 65 agencies.
Little Falls Rotary members Jeanne and Phil Smith, along with their son Chad, have worked with MACV for some time. They have actively collected more than 17,000 hygiene products and other items that have been distributed to veterans in need.
“Now that we live in Little Falls and are members of the Rotary Club, we have started this project to get the community involved,” said Phil. “The Club has embraced the project and is excited to be part of this worthwhile cause.”
“Part of this is it’s a human to human project. The veterans know they have not been forgotten after what they have gone through,” said Jeanne. “It’s a travesty they are living on the streets and under bridges, being hungry.”
The Rotary Club has placed collection boxes at MidMinnesota Federal Credit Union, US Bank, the Little Falls American Legion and Coborn’s Superstore. They will be in those locations until July 15.
What is needed for the StandDowns are gently used or new backpacks, travel-size lotions, shampoos and soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, dental floss, white athletic sox and women’s personal hygiene products.
“We hope this will be an annual collection in Little Falls, sponsored by the Rotary Club,” said Phil.
Financial donations are also welcome. The checks should be made out to the Little Falls Rotary Club and may be sent to P.O. Box 414, Little Falls, MN 56345.