This group of Reedsburg VFW, American Legion and Auxiliary volunteers unloaded two trailers full of bedding and clothing items last Thursday evening that will be distributed to homeless veterans and to homeless shelters across the state. The items came from the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Veterans Groups, Businesses Team To Help Those In Need

Homeless veterans and several organizations that serve the homeless have benefitted from volunteer efforts of the Reedsburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1916 and American Legion Post 350. Last Thursday evening, thanks to the assistance of two area businesses, two trailers full of bedding and clothing were delivered to the Reedsburg VFW Hall.

All of the items came from Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago, Illinois. The items, all in good shape, will in turn be given to organizations that serve homeless veterans and to local homeless shelters around the state. According to Paul Metz, the local veteran who started and organized the effort to bring the Great Lakes items here, the initial and main focus is to distribute items to help out homeless veterans. He works with Tomah VA and the Veterans Association Foundation out of Tomah to do that. But the local veterans groups have also helped out by donating bedding and clothing to the Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter in Reedsburg, Hope House and shelters in LaCrosse, Milwaukee and Oshkosh. Metz describes the donations as being geared first toward veterans and then to “any organization in need.”

The items brought here are surplus products the federal government no longer wants or needs and were not bid on at public auctions. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t in good condition. Some items, particularly in odd sizes, are new and some are used. But they are still in good shape. Metz obtained the clothing and bedding through a greening agreement with the federal government. By him arranging to have the items picked up, it saves the government the cost of otherwise disposing of them and it provides assistance to people in need.

So far the local veterans groups have distributed about eight tons of bedding and clothing around the state. Metz points out all of the items distributed are made in the U.S.A. and of good quality. “I take what I can get,” he says. “People need it.” Blankets and cots were particularly welcome at homeless shelters this winter.

The distribution has been helped along by major contributions from area businesses. Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells has been a big supporter. It provided the trucks, trailers and drivers that brought up last week’s load of items from Great Lakes. Skinner Transfer of Reedsburg, just across the street from the VFW Hall, provided a forklift and a driver to help unload the trailers. “They deserve a lot of credit,” says Metz of the two businesses for their major assistance.