Donations Needed To Fill 96 Backpacks for Homeless Military Veterans
BELLEVUE, Nebraska – Now through Thursday, Nov. 5, the public can donate much-needed items to fill backpacks for homeless military veterans who are staying temporarily at the Siena Francis House.
Items can be dropped off at Bellevue University’s Military Veteran Services Center at 2108 Harvell Drive, Bellevue, Nebraska 68005. Donations can also be dropped off outside the building for those wishing to avoid contact due to the pandemic.
According to Heather Carroll, Manager of the Military Veteran Services Center, the backpack drive is co-sponsored by Bellevue University and the Wounded Warrior Project and is supported by a number of other non-profit veterans and community organizations.
“Our goal is to fill 96 backpacks with essentials that will improve the day-to-day lives of the homeless veterans who are served by the Siena Francis House,” Carroll said. “The things that many of us take for granted mean the world to these veterans.”
Items needed include: hand sanitizer (8 ounce or less bottles), masks, blankets, baby wipes, hand and body lotion, hand and feet warmers, individually packaged snacks such as cheese and cracker packs, candy, small bags of chips, men and women’s deodorant, lip balm, winter hats and gloves and women’s bars of soap. Monetary and gift card donations are also being accepted.
Bellevue University students Raynier Harrington (Ray) and Sandy Hernandez-Jones are helping lead the project as part of a Kirkpatrick Series Service Project.
“Last year, 75 backpacks were donated to the Siena Francis House,” Harrington said. “We hope to increase that number to 96 and help even more homeless military veterans this year.”
Carroll said the backpacks will be presented to the Siena Francis House staff and residents on Wednesday, Nov. 11, during a flag ceremony at the Siena Francis House’s annual Veterans Day celebration. Locally, several hundred military veterans seek shelter at the Siena Francis House each year; while nationally, about 20 percent of all homeless persons are veterans.
(Photo caption: From left: Manager of the Military Veteran Services Center Heather Carroll, Outlook Nebraska Human Resource Director Mark Plutschak and Director of the Nebraska chapter of Guitars for Vets Peggy Frye-Ullom pose for a photo. Outlook Nebraska makes a donation during the backpack drive in 2019.)
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a non-profit university with more than 57,000 graduates worldwide. The University is a recognized national leader in preparing students for lifelong success with career-relevant knowledge and skills, while making college affordable. Routinely ranked among the nation’s top military-friendly and accessible institutions, the University serves residential students at its main campus in Bellevue, Nebraska, and everywhere online with more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs uniquely designed for working adults. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org).