Local agencies teaming up to help veterans

ELKINS — Local agencies are seeking assistance from the community for a project that will give back to those who have made sacrifices for the country.

Youth Health Services, Inc., AmeriCorps Vistas, Warriors in the Field and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, are teaming up to collect gratitude letters, notes and drawings to distribute to wounded troops at the 345-bed medical facility.

Kali Elza, AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator at Youth Health Services, Inc., said this is the first year the project has been done locally, but may be something that is continued in the future.

“This is the first year we are doing this specific project. I will be finished with my AmeriCorps experience in August of this year, so Dave Whittaker from Warriors in the Field may take over this project and implement it in the future for years to come,” she said.

She added the idea for the project got started because she had to complete a “service project” and felt this would be a positive way to kick off 2019.

“With myself being in AmeriCorps, there are specific times that I have to do ‘service projects.’ These projects are supposed to meet the needs of the community I am serving – Elkins. With this specific project, it may not necessarily be a major need, but I wanted to start off the New Year on a positive note and be able to show these individuals that they are supported and appreciated,” Elza explained. “I also chose to focus on wounded troops because I feel as though every family has at least one person that is currently in the military or has served. This is the type of project that I felt people could really connect to overall.”

Members of Warriors in the Field, along with Elza, plan to hand deliver the letters and other correspondence to the residents of the facility.

“The items we are collecting will actually be hand-delivered to wounded troops. I and others from Warriors in the Field will hopefully be traveling to the medical center to make sure the troops get the items,” Elza said. “If there are security concerns as to where we can’t ourselves hand them to the troops inside the center, we at least want to make sure we can hand deliver the items to someone in charge. It may just be letters and notes being delivered, but you would be surprised as to how much simply saying ‘thank you’ can mean to them.”

She said she believes this project is important because military personnel make many sacrifices to the country.

“This project is important to do because these individuals are sacrificing so much, their whole lives, just to serve the country. Showing our support and appreciation, especially to the wounded troops, would really mean a lot to them.”

Elza added items do not need to be put into envelopes but said she hopes to get at least 300 submissions from the surrounding communities.

Those wishing to write a letter or other form or correspondence can drop them off at Youth Health Services, Inc., 971 Harrison Ave. or send them to Warriors in the Field at P.O. Box 1183, Elkins, West Virginia 26241.

The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31.