Rotary Clubs Holding Annual Winter Wear Drive for Homeless Veterans
Stand Down Day event takes place on November 8 in Chicago.
For the 17th year, Rotary Clubs throughout the Chicago region are coordinating a massive campaign in support of the area’s homeless veterans called Stand Down Day.
They are collecting 1,500 clean, lightly-used winter coats, blankets, hats, gloves, and new long underwear to bring comfort and warmth to the servicemen and women who are too often cold and forgotten.
Working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations, the Rotary Clubs have enlisted the support of numerous corporations in this important undertaking. The clothing will be distributed to the veterans during Stand Down Day, which will be held this year on Thursday, November 8, at the Humboldt Park Armory at 1551 N. Kedzie Avenue in Chicago.
The concept of “stand down” comes from the military practice of removing exhausted combat units from the field of battle to a place of relative safety where they can rest and recover. Stand Down Day represents that safe haven for homeless veterans. The goals are to provide a respite from the rigors of life on the street, help area homeless veterans obtain permanent housing, assist attendees in establishing a source of income, and stabilize their health conditions.
“This year we expect to have more coats than needed for the homeless veterans,” stated Rotary International District 6450 Governor Pat Merryweather. “Rotarians are responding quite well to making sure that all homeless veterans are provided with coats and warm clothing for the winter.” Rotary Clubs throughout the area were deeply concerned and motivated when they learned that, last year, only 75 coats were available for distribution on Stand Down Day, and 850 homeless vets came to the armory that day for support.
The VA will distribute any extra coats to the homeless veterans being served at veteran centers in suburban communities like Aurora, Joliet, Kankakee, Crestwood, and other cities. The remaining coats will be given to recent vets at Hines and Jesse Brown VA hospitals as those centers are receiving many of the younger vets returning home from active duty overseas.
In addition to the clothing and blankets, during Stand Down Day the veterans will be offered hot meals, medical and optical services, employment opportunities, legal assistance, haircuts, clothing, and camaraderie.
Chicago area homeless veterans represent about 30 percent of the homeless in the city. The Chicago area veteran centers, VA medical centers, and more than 20 public and private agencies lead the Stand Down effort. Chicago’s Stand Down Day is a project of the Chicago Veterans Economic Development Council.
Drop off slightly used (not new), clean winter coats, as well as hats or gloves by Wednesday, October 31 at any of sixteen Republic Bank branches (www.RepublicEBank.com), Hawthorne Credit Union (www.Hawthornecu.org) in Naperville or Bolingbrook, and Fair Oaks Ford-Lincoln in Naperville at 2055 W. Ogden Ave. and 1351 E. Ogden Ave.
Special thanks to the Chicago area Rotary Clubs for the release.