They leave their families behind and risk their lives to serve and protect our nation, yet many veterans face tough economic challenges when they return from active duty. Returning veterans and their families often face financial hardships, experience problems finding jobs, or may find themselves wondering where their next meal will come from. Many families of those currently deployed overseas are often confronted with similar difficulties. Hope, however, is on the way.
In recognition of Veterans Day and to address the problems some of our servicemen and women face upon returning home, Island Harvest, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization, today unveiled a new weapon aimed at assisting veterans and their families who may be struggling with hunger and economic difficulties.
Escorted by a detachment of over two dozen motorcycles from the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club-Long Island Chapter, Operation: HOPE, a mobile food pantry that will bring direct help to veterans in need, was previewed at a special ceremony at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. The event was attended by local veterans, hunger relief advocates, elected officials and business leaders.
Operation: HOPE is a refrigerated Sprinter van that delivers supplemental food and personal care items directly to the homes of Long Island veterans and their families in need of assistance. The mobile resource, staffed by volunteers who themselves are veterans, also provides vital information and referrals to access benefits and other services to help servicemen and women and the families of those presently on active duty get through tough economic times. Organizations supporting Operation: HOPE includes the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, 9-1-1 Veterans and other veterans’ organizations such as local VFW and American Legion Posts.
“Our veterans have done their part; now it’s time for us to do ours in helping those who now face such serious issues as unemployment, mounting bills, and all too often hunger,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO, Island Harvest. “Thanks to the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club-Long Island Chapter and NBTY Helping Hands Charity, we are able to provide direct outreach to those who have served our country with pride and distinction, but have returned home to economic uncertainty.”
Operation: HOPE was made possible through the generosity of NBTY Helping Hands Charity, a nonprofit arm of Ronkonkoma, NY-based NBTY, a leading worldwide manufacturer and distributor of nutritional supplements. Food items delivered by Operation: HOPE includes canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, shelf-stable juices and other non-perishables. Other items are deodorants, shampoo, soap, toothpaste and other personal care products.
“No one should ever go hungry, especially veterans who have put their lives on the line so we can enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear,” said Jim Flaherty, NBTY Helping Hands Charity. “Operation: HOPE will reach out and bring much needed food and other assistance to Long Island veterans and their families in their time of need and we are pleased to be able to help them.”
“Veterans Day is a time for all Americans to recognize the exceptional sacrifice and service from those who have defended our nation and the principles of freedom and democracy, here and around the world,” said Frank Bania, president, U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club-Long Island Chapter. “There is no reason for any veteran or their families to do without something as basic as food and partnering with Island Harvest offers hope and assistance to those who have selflessly served and now need help themselves.”
Operation: HOPE is in need of non-perishable food items, personal care items, supermarket gift cards or monetary donations. For more information how you can help Long Island’s veterans in need, call 516-294-8528 or visit www.islandharvest.org.
See also: This Veterans Day, Obama shows that flag-waving is not enough; Vets need jobs