Thankful for veterans
Most Oregonians have reconciled with being apart during Thanksgiving because of COVID-19 closures and a government-mandated shutdown. But another group of people in East Multnomah County often face isolation even without a global health crisis.
Many senior veterans in the community routinely find themselves stuck at home during a normal year. With the pandemic, that seclusion has only become stronger.
So a team of Gresham veterans rallied together to complete a special mission of spreading cheer to their homebound peers.
"These are veterans who aren't able to get out of the house with life and the pandemic," said Ron Kamys, American Legion Post 30 commander. "We are here to serve veterans, and we had an opportunity to express our appreciation."
Members of the Gresham branch of the nonprofit American Legion volunteered to fund food boxes to send out to 90 homebound senior veterans.
The boxes included apples, pears and oranges; cheese and summer sausage; crackers; cookies and chocolate covered cherries. There was also a card thanking the veterans for their service and wishing them happy holidays.
"There are so many veteran families in need," said veteran Frank West. "This is just one way we can give back."
The seniors who received the boxes were identified by Meals on Wheels Ambleside Center in Gresham.
"We always want to do something extra for veterans and our clients," said Brianna Winningham, program manager at the Ambleside Center. "The boxes went to people without anywhere to go — so we go to them."
The donation this year was even more impactful because of the programs Meals on Wheels had to shutter because of the pandemic. Seniors normally can visit the dining room, 600 N.E. Eighth St., for a hot meal and company. But with COVID, the dining room has been closed, so the food delivery nonprofit organization was excited to team up with the American Legion.
"The boxes were so well received," Winningham said. "Our volunteers loved delivering them and our vets were really touched. We are really happy we got to help with this."
The boxes were assembled by The Fruit Company in Hood River and offered to the American Legion at a reduced rate. The project was funded by American Legion members and donations, and was supported by Kohler Meyers O'Halloran Realtors, CertaPro Painters of Gresham, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 180.
The week before Thanksgiving a team of veterans drove up the Columbia River Gorge to pick up the boxes, and brought them back to Meals on Wheels so they could be safely distributed.
The boxes went out via a special route to senior veterans, 60 years or older, in Gresham, East Portland, Troutdale, Wood Village, Fairview and Corbett.
"Without those who serve in the armed forces and their families, this nation would not exist in its present form," Kamys said. "Therefore, they should be at the top of our list for the things that we are thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday, as well as throughout the year."
The American Legion Post 30 is always looking for donations to help fund programs like the food box delivery.
"Our funds are limited, so anyone who would like to donate to this cause or any of our other projects in support of veterans would be greatly appreciated," said Frank West.
Mail checks to P.O Box 2158 Gresham, OR, 97030
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