They’ve served us.
Now it’s time for us to serve them.
The Women of Alle-Kiski Engaging spent two months collecting nonperishable food and personal products to be donated to the Veterans Leadership Program, which helps those who served in the military with everything from housing and career development to wellness and other supportive services.
WAKE collected items such as canned meat, tuna and chicken, pasta, noodles, rice, boxed dinners, peanut butter, beef stew, graham crackers, granola bars, cleaning products, soap, shampoo, lotion, paper towels and toilet paper.
On Tuesday, members of WAKE as well as other participants in the collection drive gave a presentation to the Veterans Leadership Program at the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber’s office in Harrison.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program doesn’t cover cleaning supplies, paper products and other household items. That creates a gap for veterans in need that the Veterans Leadership Program focuses on filling. They compile kits filled with hygiene products, food, paper goods.
“All of these items are truly useful,” said Toshua Jarrett, chief development officer for the Veterans Leadership Program. “There are veterans who have fallen on hard times. They are in the process of trying to find jobs. Some of them are unable to work , and it takes up to two years to be approved for disability. How will they be able to pay rent and utilities and buy food? All of this will definitely help.”
Donation boxes were located at Westarm Physical Therapy in Cheswick and Lower Burrell, Heritage Hospice in Lower Burrell, Dollar General and MinuteMan Press, both in Allegheny Township, Alle Kiski Strong Chamber in Harrison, Havin’s Second Chance Shop in Kittanning, the Springdale Free Public Library and Harvest Moon Coffee and Chocolates, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Blackburn’s Pharmacy, all in Tarentum, as well as Woodforest National Bank in Harrison.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Heritage Hospice employees Laura Blanchetti and Francine White carry donated items for Veterans Leadership Program outside of the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber office in Harrison on Tuesday.
A room inside the chamber was filled with bags and boxes of items from those businesses that were carried to Jarrett’s truck. The Lower Burrell resident and her husband, Brian, both Army veterans, said they were overwhelmed by the response.
“This is so helpful,” Jarrett said. “It is one less thing a veteran has to worry about. The need is there.”
The Veterans Leadership Program is an amazing group, said CiCi Broxie, chairwoman of WAKE and an Alle Kiski Strong Chamber board member, whose husband, Richard Broxie Jr., is a retired Marine. “We are amazed and so appreciative of the support from the community. With my husband being a veteran, being able to help other veterans holds a special place in my heart.”
It also does for Francine White, a community liaison for Heritage Hospice who said that’s a reason they decided to collect items. She said they work with veterans and are inspired by their stories and resiliency.
Growing up in a military family and having family members in all branches of the service, Ganele Erickson, branch manager of Woodforest National Bank in Harrison, said she was happy to help. Veterans are among their customers.
“This is important work the Veterans Leadership Program is doing,” Erickson said. “We can’t take for granted what veterans do for us.”
“When we connected with the Veterans Leadership Program and realized there was a need, we immediately wanted to help,” said Broxie, a sales manager at EZtoUse Digital Media Services. “We thought this was the perfect week to make the donations because Thursday is Veterans Day.”