Basic toiletries and hygiene items like soap are included in the cost of stay for patients at many hospitals, but those in VA hospitals, including Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, are on their own. One local high school group, though, pitched in to make a difference.
Members of the Navy Junior ROTCprogram at Silver Bluff High school in Aiken County donned their uniforms Friday and delivered a collection of donated items. The group’s donation was driven by the efforts of Silver Bluff junior Kharin Tusing.
Her time as a volunteer collecting for the Veterans in Need program began last August, when she started a collection drive at the school after hearing about the Aiken-based charity.
“My dad came home from the VFW with some information about the Veterans in Need program and I just ran with it,” she said.
Her father is an auxiliary member at VFW Post 5877 in Aiken along with Veterans in Need program founder Joanie Curry. Curry called the Junior ROTC students’ efforts exemplary.
“They are incredible young people and their work will help a lot of veterans,” she said.
The group of five students, guided by unit commander Brian Goldschmidt, delivered about $750 worth of items collected in their drive.
“We got coffee, razors, hand and body soap, and playing cards,” Goldschmidt said. “We want to do this every May.”
Phillip Hamilton, a first-year Navy Junior ROTC student at Silver Bluff, said, “These veterans gave their time and sacrificed to serve and protect us, we want to give back to them.”
Phillip and Kharin both said more is needed.
“It was a struggle to get donations at first,” she said. “The vets still have a need.”
Goldschmidt said the donation is representative of what the program stands for.
“The NJROTC program teaches citizenship and we try to develop an appreciation for service,” he said. “This is a visible act that demonstrates these students’ dedication to the community. These kids are our future. When we see them working with those who came before us, we know, as vets, that we are in good hands for the future.”
Courtney Deese, the Voluntary Services specialist for the VA hospital, said donations and volunteers are always welcome. Many services at the hospital are provided by volunteers, including lobby attendants and volunteers who take coffee and snacks to those throughout the hospital.
For more information about the Veterans in Need program, contact Joanie Curry at (803) 998-6103, and to volunteer at Charlie Norwood, contact Courtney Deese at Courtney.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706)823-3339 or email@example.com.