Guest Column: Christmas for Vets seeks donations

By Pastor Bob Theroux
Chaplain, Rockford Vietnow

Christmas for Vets is an outreach of Rockford Charter Chapter Vietnow. We began Christmas for Vets unofficially in 2001 with a visit to some of our veterans who were recuperating from health issues. We noticed that other veterans had no visitors, no Christmas cards and no gifts … so after much thought and prayer, we brought this issue to the board and obtained permission to begin an outreach with what we had.

Everyone gave some money. We began with about $200, and with this, we purchased some small items, clothing, toiletry items and brought them homemade cards. This began with one facility in 2002 and 15 veterans, and has grown to this year, in 2013, to a total of 46 health care facilities and approximately 1,000 veterans in four counties.

We bring military Christmas cards we have printed, blankets, white crew socks, and plates of homemade cookies. We visit all veterans, no matter what branch of service, which war, as long as they had some active service for our country.

We spend time with each veteran, asking them about their service time, what they did, where they served and their lives in general. We have even met some wonderful widows of veterans, and some Rosie the Riveters, along with some great lady veterans who served our country.

In the past 11 years, we have grown because we have attracted hometown support from the Rockford citizens and the surrounding area. We have several places in Winnebago, Boone, Lee and Ogle counties. We visit South Beloit, Rockton, Roscoe, Byron, Belvidere, Rochelle, Mt. Morris, Franklin Grove, Shabbona and Winnebago. We get referrals from family members, other facilities and from some of our members.

We could use cash donations — no amount is too small — from which we purchase fabric and yarn to help ladies’ groups make quilts, afghans and lap robes. We have several churches that help us, as well as several civic groups, banks, private businesses, individuals and even other veterans’ groups.

Everyone lends a hand. The result … our dear veterans have a merry Christmas and are honored and valued for the sacrifices they have made for each of us and for our nation’s freedom. At the end of every visit, the vets who visit, along with family members, stand and salute these brave warriors to honor them.

We could use all the support this city and surrounding areas can send our way.

Cash donations, lap robes, either handmade or knitted or crocheted, quilted, sewn, approximately 48 inches by 60 inches in size, and white crew socks, and lots and lots of homemade cookies … four dozen per container, labeled if you want your container back … or in Ziploc bags, delivered to 1320 E. Gate Pkwy. on Fridays through Dec. 13 between 5 and 9 p.m. If you have any questions, call (815) 399-0990 and ask for Pastor Bob Theroux.

Checks should be made out to Rockford Vietnow with the memo section of the check labeled CHRISTMAS FOR VETS. This outreach has its own account and is used for only this outreach. Mail checks to 1835 Broadway, Rockford, IL 61104.

From the Dec. 4-10, 2013, issue

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