When members of the Star Fort (S.C.) Chapter learned about an effort to provide needed personal care items and supplies to local homeless veterans, they didn’t hesitate to get involved.
During a chapter meeting, members “passed the hat” and collected around $500 for the cause. They then partnered with the Rotary Club of Greenwood to purchase and donate 17 backpacks and ponchos, which they presented to the Greenwood County Veterans Affairs Office. The backpacks were filled with the ponchos and essential items such as underwear, socks, T-shirts, towels, washcloths, and toiletries and distributed to homeless veterans.
“We’ve got a great chapter that is tight-knit and very generous,” said Lt. Col. Terry Greenfield, ARNG (Ret), chapter president.
This was the chapter’s first time supporting the backpacks for veterans initiative, but it won’t be the last. “Our next step is helping to distribute them to the veterans,” Greenfield said.
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This effort is just one of many ways members of the chapter give back locally.
Members helped build a ramp at Tranquility Point Veterans Retreat; participate in Wreaths Across America; help keep an area roadway clean through Adopt-a-Highway; and donated money, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to a nearby Fisher House.
In addition, members volunteer with Veteran's Last Patrol, a nonprofit founded in South Carolina in 2018 that connects veteran volunteers to veterans in hospice.
Greenfield said chapter members’ connections to other veterans’ organizations keeps them aware of needs in the community. A recent example occurred after the holidays, when the chapter learned about an effort to support a local National Guard unit. “We had a unit deploying right after Christmas, so members of the chapter helped packed sandwiches for them to eat during the flight,” he explained.
Greenfield hopes the backpacks program might help the chapter get in the door to assist with greater issues, such as veteran suicide, post-traumatic stress, and homelessness, but they will continue to give back in ways both big and small.
“We get honored a lot as veterans by the community … so, in a way, it’s our way of giving back,” he said. “We like getting acknowledged for our service, but we also all like giving back to the community. It’s a great way of saying, ‘We can give as good as we receive.’ I think a lot of military people feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve and be taken care of after retirement, so a way to give back is giving the little things.”