As a result of a combined effort of generosity and holiday spirit on behalf of volunteers from local VFW Post 1638, VFW Women’s Auxiliary, Park Place residents and Merrill Area Housing Authority (MAHA) Executive Director (Ret.) US Army Colonel Paul Russell, residents of the King Veterans Home near Waupaca were treated to quite a surprise this past Christmas.
As Russell explains, the joint effort yielded 375 wrapped gifts which were loaded up in Russell’s personal vehicle and distributed to residents by volunteers Christmas morning. The number of gifts was over five times the number of gifts delivered last year, the first year of the project.
“I visited King for the first time, a few months before the holidays last year (2015),” Russell explains. “Until then, I had no idea how many residents are there or really what King was all about. I learned most of the 850 residents of the King home are single veterans with very little support in the form of family and friends.
“After my visit I came up with this idea and started talking with a few people to see what we could do with it. I found there was a lot of support out there for something like this, so last year we gave it a go with hopes of hopefully bringing just a little more holiday cheer to Christmas for our veterans down there. It ended up being one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had, was a very rewarding experience for all of us I think.”
This year’s delivery consisted of an array of gifts ranging from hand-knit hats and gloves courtesy of Park Place residents to puzzles, games and gift baskets of personal hygiene items, to which King residents may not always have ready access.
“The VFW Women’s Auxiliary really played an integral part in this year’s effort,” Russell adds. “They not only came along to help deliver the items, but did a great deal of the gift wrapping for us. Their help was very much appreciated.”
According to Russell, although the King home does receive individual donations on a regular basis, King Home staff advised this coordinated effort was the first of its kind to focus on King Home veterans.
“We would like to see this continue as an annual event,” Russell added. “In fact, I hope we can eventually get to a point where we can donate at least one gift for every veteran at the King Home.”
Those interested in participating in the King Home Christmas effort are asked to contact the VFW Post 1638 Women’s Auxiliary.