The 2016 holiday season saw members of the Summit County community putting their generosity on display in support of local military veterans and their families. With the assistance of volunteers and donations from multiple local organizations, the VSC was able to spread good cheer – and gifts – to a record 98 families during its fifth annual holiday toy drive.
Organizations such as the Polish American Citizens Club, American Legion Posts 449 and 473, Toys for Tots, VFW Post 7971 and VA Home Based Primary Care of Northeast Ohio contributed donations of gift cards and over 1,000 toys, which were given out to more than 300 children. Volunteers Charles and Barbara Duvall, Thomas and Edna McNellis, Forest Thornton, Elva Pounders and John Life manned tables for several hours each day during the two-week drive, helping to pair families with gifts.
Veterans receiving financial assistance through the VSC are permitted to use that aid only for real needs like utilities and groceries, and spending it on gifts would result in a discontinuation of benefits. The toy drive ensures that their children don’t go without a gift during the holidays.
“Members of the U.S. Armed Forces put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedom, and it’s rewarding to be able to show gratitude and support to those of them who are in need,” said David Burden, project manager, VSC. “We would like to thank everyone who supported the toy drive and helped to make the lives of these veterans and their families a little brighter.”
For Barbara Duvall, a retired Akron Children’s Hospital nurse, the desire to support military veterans is deeply personal.
“My father was a U.S. Marine who fought at Iwo Jima and my husband was in Vietnam, so we have a lot of admiration for the military,” said Duvall, who initially came to the VSC as a client seeking hearing aids for her father. She began volunteering with the VSC a few years ago following her retirement, initially assisting with records scanning. She and her husband Charles have participated in the toy drive for the past three years.
“The toy drive is my husband’s favorite,” she said. “It’s sad to see so many veteran families in need of assistance, but it brings my husband and I a lot of joy to help them.”
To learn more about how you can partner with the VSC to help area veterans, please contact David Burden at 330-643-7636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.