In this season defined by giving and gratefulness, many charity organizations look to make things a little brighter for those around them.
Holiday Hearts for Vets stands out among the crowd. This organization, located in the Rockbridge county area of Virginia, is focused on giving thanks to our disabled, aging, and other deserving veterans during the Christmas holiday.
Sandy Collier started Holiday Hearts for Vets in 2011. Helping bring holiday joy to veterans and their families is close to her heart. Holiday Hearts for Vets is Sandy’s chance to “pay it forward”.
HHFV honors the sacrifice made to our country by veterans and their families. So, what better way to celebrate the season than to combine the spirit of Christmas and gratitude to our veterans? Sandy even hopes to expand the program to include veterans in neighboring Augusta county.
Sandy finds local veterans and fills them in on the Holiday Hearts for Vets program. If they agree to take part, the real work begins. Sandy and her corp of volunteers will clean up the yard, rake ~ whatever it takes to get it ready for the fun part ~ decorating!
HHFV will then set to work making the veteran’s house festive. Lights and other decorations donated by local businesses and individuals are used to make their home sparkle. The veterans also receive other “goodies” such as gift baskets and gift cards.
Then, come January, the volunteers return to take it all down and clean up. Sandy has many volunteers who participate, whether it is for yard clean up, knitting hats and scarves, baking cookies, assembling gift baskets, and even local stores and restaurants that donate gift cards.
Sandy’s hope is that by decorating their home for the holidays, each veteran will know that there are people who care about their sacrifice. It is especially important to Sandy to return the Christmas spirit that some veterans may have lost.
This year, Holiday Hearts for Vets is helping three area veterans. All three served in the US Army. However, each year it is different. Since its beginning, Holiday Hearts for Vets has helped a total of 7 Veterans. Their goal is to always strive to do better and improve upon the preceding year.
A memorable and touching moment happened recently when Sandy explained the HHFV program to one of this year’s veterans;
“When I told him of the program, he started to cry and said in a stuttering voice, ‘But I have no money’. When I explained to him it didn't cost him anything, just permission to let us do it, he proceeded to tear some more.”
Sandy believes that Holiday Hearts for Vets has a lot to be thankful for this year. They have been blessed by support and donations from many sources:
- Penny Perasso of Grey-Wolf Designs donated her talents to create a wonderful new logo. Check the logo out at the beginning of this article!
- HHFV also had help from Miller Finch of Miller Finch Media in helping to write a letter for a recently featured newspaper article.
- They also thank Joe Soltis of Soltis Consulting for setting up their non-profit status.
New this year is Holiday Hearts for Vets Christmas Cards for Troops program. Central Elementary in Lexington, VA., was picked to help get the cards to our soldiers. They helped send over 500 of them!!!
|Central Elementary Students Help Send Cards to Our Troops!|
Also, this year the local Waynesboro, VA Home Depot donated the decorations needed. Sandy hopes this will be an ongoing thing as the need is great.
HHFV also thanks Michael Camden Landscaping and LawnCare for jumping on board to assist with clean up.
Sandy’s hope is that in the coming years they can get a construction company to donate their time and skills to our vets. Many need help completing minor repairs, or constructing a wheelchair ramp, etc.
If you are in the Rockbridge area and want to help, be sure to contact them. You can find Holiday Hearts for Vets through this Facebook link.
Or, you may even be inspired to start a similar program in your area!
We thank Sandy and Holiday Hearts for Vets for spreading Christmas cheer to our veterans.....What a great example of knowing “the reason for the season” to us all!
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