Homeless Veterans Awareness Day Offers Opportunity To Help

As part of Roselle Park’s Homeless Veterans Awareness Day, Councilman-At-Large Carl Hokanson and the Veterans Chamber Of Commerce-NJ Chief Operating Officer Kevin Murphy will be collecting needed winter items for homeless veterans and their family members beginning 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 28th at the Roselle Park First Aid Squad (RPFAS). This event is in cooperation with Operation Chillout (link).

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, even though only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, about 13% of the adult homeless population are veterans – other estimates go as high as 25% – with an estimated 60,000 veterans being homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. About 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.

The set of factors that homeless veterans live with includes the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, lack of family and social support networks, shortage of affordable housing, lack of access to health care, and the shortage of livable income due to military occupations and training which are not always transferable to the civilian workforce. A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.

Even though the complex issues facing homeless veterans cannot be easily resolved, there are things Roselle Park residents can do to offer the bare essentials throughout the year.

To that end, Roselle Park declared September 28, 2013 as Homeless Veterans Awareness Day and ask that starting Saturday, and continuing throughout the year, residents drop off any of the following items:

  • Backpack or Duffel Bag
  • Ziplock bags
  • Bar of soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Tooth Brush
  • Shampoo
  • Chap Stick
  • Comb
  • Hairbrush
  • Tissues
  • Winter Hand Crème
  • Deodorant
  • Handi Wipes
  • Knit Cap
  • Gloves
  • Wool/Nylon Blend Socks
  • Insulated Underwear (tops and bottoms)
  • Hooded Zippered Sweatshirt or Heavy Flannel Shirt

As part of a Backpack Drive – where backpacks or duffel bags filled with warm clothing, toiletries, and other essentials will be delivered during the winter months to homeless man, woman, and family – residents can also create a care backpack with the above mentioned items.

It is asked that toiletries be personal size or travel size only and that they be packed in a gallon size Ziplock bag and stored in an outer pocket of the backpack. Additionally, clothes should be new or unused and in sizes Large or Extra-Large.

All items can be dropped off at the RPFAS located at 535 Laurel Avenue starting Saturday from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Donations will continue to be accepted from 7 p.m. till 11 p.m. every day. Anyone wishing to make a financial donation can make checks payable to Operation Chillout, which is a registered 501 (c)(3) organization. All donations are deductible to the amount allowed by law.

If any organization would like to establish a collection site, please contact Kevin Murphy at (908) 820-0793.