The Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program, along with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 45, has announced the kickoff of the Cherokee County Adopt-a-Veteran program, which is in its sixth year.
“This program focuses on two main areas. The first is helping veterans with families who are financially challenged, and the second is at-home senior veterans and those living alone in nursing homes,” Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program Director Jim Lindenmayer said. “We bring Christmas to them so they’re not forgotten.”
According to the examples Lindemayer gave, veterans with families who may be financially challenged are given presents for the children in the family, along with all the items they need to make their own Christmas dinner, while senior veterans receive gifts of their own and, if they live at home, the food to make Christmas dinner. Lindenmayer said the program would also be donating trees to the veterans being helped if any are received from donors.
While the Adopt-a-Veteran program is dedicated to helping veterans with financial challenges and elderly veterans who may be alone, Lindenmayer said individuals, families and companies throughout Cherokee County are welcome to help support the program by adopting a veteran. There are those who make helping veterans through this program a family project, while local companies support the effort because they are easily able to see the veterans being helped and the impact they are having in the community.
Through the 2019 Adopt-a-Veteran program, more than 230 senior veterans residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout Cherokee County receive some Christmas cheer to remind them they are not forgotten. The 2019 program also helped more than 40 veterans and their families with presents for their children and Christmas dinner.
“It is definitely a tremendous success,” Lindenmayer said.
In a news release, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 45 President Betty Lewis added, “This year, even though we are in the midst of the COVID situation, we would like to expand our program further so that we can make sure we are reaching the maximum number of veterans who can be helped through this program. We will be working with the county’s senior adult living facilities and nursing homes to see what, if anything, we can do for the veterans living in these facilities for the holidays, as they have been isolated due to COVID.”
Although the Adopt-a-Veteran program is continuing much the same as it has for the past several years, Lindenmayer said there are a few events the program is involved with that have been altered or canceled this year.
For example, he said the Breakfast with Santa event, usually held in early December, has been canceled out of a sense of caution due to the pandemic. At the same time, plans are still in place to hold a candlelight vigil at the homeless veteran statue in Cherokee Veterans Park at sundown (5:30 p.m.) on Dec. 21 to commemorate the plight of the more than 50,000 veterans that find themselves homeless on any given night in America.
If you know of a veteran family that is in need, know of an elderly veteran living alone, or you or your group would like to support the Adopt-a-Veteran program, contact Lindenmayer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 678-983-7590. Alternatively, Lewis with the American Legion Post 45 Auxiliary can be reached at 770-318-6451.
“There’s a lot of logistics involved, but we’re very happy to do it,” Lindenmayer said.