Annual Christmas Drive Benefits Homeless Veterans

Holiday Drive to Benefit Homeless Vets

Over the past four years, Bristol, Tennessee residents have donated about 2,500 Christmas care packages, including clothing, hygiene items, games, Bibles and other items, to homeless veterans staying at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Johnson City and Tri-Cities area homeless shelters, including the Salvation Army and Haven of Rest.

Last year’s total number of persons served was about 650, a decline from about 900 in 2010.  With a growing number of homeless veterans, organizers expect this year’s Christmas benefit to be the biggest so far.  The local VA facility currently houses about 250 veterans in its domiciliary.

The Annual Christmas Project is organized by April Taylor, a Nashville recording artist who lives in the Twin City.  She started the program after visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

During the first year, people wrapped gifts, but those were difficult for recipients to carry.  This year, Taylor is suggesting donations be placed in reusable canvas shopping bags. Food City has donated bags, which are available at the National Guard Armory on Bluff City Highway.

Suggested items include fleece blankets, gloves, scarves, knit caps, socks, personal hygiene products, crossword puzzles, playing cards, hard candy, small notebooks, games and Bibles. Donors are also encouraged to include a card or personal note.

Anyone wishing to contribute money should contact the VA Medical Center at Mountain Home.

Bags can be dropped off at the National Guard Armory, 611 Bluff City Highway, Bristol, Tennessee.  For more details, contact the National Guard Armory at (423) 989-6640

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