Blessing Buckets For Homeless Veterans
GAINESVILLE - They served their country but are now on the streets. There are tens of thousands of homeless veterans in America -- however one local organization is passing out love to them, by the bucket. With the winter months approaching, this is the first time homeless vets in Gainesville are offered blessing buckets.
"This is what America is all about-- Our veterans,” Ronna Jackson with the American Legion Auxiliary said. Service men and women not only encounter a challenge on the battle field but also when they make it back home. "Personally I don't think there should be a veteran that is homeless," Jackson added.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, there are about 8,000 homeless vets in Florida alone. However the American Legion is trying to change that in Gainesville. Buckets filled with blessings are part of their homeless veterans’ initiative.
"There was everything they needed from head to the literally. There was shampoo, combs, gloves all their personal hygiene items. T-shirts socks," Jackson said. Different businesses and organizations and personal donations within the community helped put these 5 gallon buckets together.
Alan Kowal a homeless vet said, "It shows us that there are people out there wanting to help us, that care about us. It shows us that there are people who want to help us... And anytime we need help we have somewhere to go at all times." Kowal tells me that with cold nights ahead, these essentials will come in handy.
Dorothy Walsh the Director of the Homeless Veteran Initiative said, “We expect homeless veterans to be males but as we saw today... That is not necessarily so. We have females and if that not sad enough we even had some children."
Just like Orson Hutton, currently a homeless veteran with two kids, struggling to make ends meet. "For me? I appreciate the stuff that was given here today but luckily for me I am about to be in my own permanent place, me and the kids. It's like for me, this is more than enough for me... I just appreciate it all," Hutton said.
While this was the first time it happened here in Gainesville, the local American Legion hopes to continue the tradition of Blessing Buckets every year. "When you see a vet, take the time to say thanks. Shake their hand. Buy them lunch," Jackson said. Just the simple words "thank you" can go a long way.
Blessing buckets took place this weekend as veteran's day is around the corner, taking place Monday, November 11th.
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