The law enforcement and military communities came together late last week to lend a hand to those who served, but needed some help.
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POLICE & VETERANS HELPING
THOSE WHO SERVED IN NEED
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NOVEMBER 22, 2021) – Across Rhode Island, it’s estimated there are about 500 homeless veterans.
On Friday morning, a group of Middletown and Newport police officers delivered care packages to some of those folks as well as veterans who were in need across Aquidneck Island.
The packages through “Coats4Vets” were loaded in bright orange Home Depot buckets included new heavy winter coats, toiletries, personal protective equipment to deal with the COVID-19 and other items.
Meeting up outside the VFW Gilbert-Burton Post 4487 on Underwood Lane, those involved said they felt it was the least they could do for those who’ve given so much for their country.
“That’s what the VFW is here for, to help veterans and the wider community,” VFW 4487 Post Commander Allen Wagonblott Jr. said. “There are some people out there that really need help. They’re living out on the street, under overpasses and they’ve done so much for us, it only makes sense we try to help them. We’re going to be doing more of this.”
Others agreed, saying the stories involving some veterans were heartbreaking.
“You talk to these people and they’re so grateful and it’s us who are really grateful,” Middletown Police Capt. Michael Faria said. “This is just a small token of our appreciation, to say ‘You’re not forgotten and you really matter.’”
The effort was just one of many underway in Middletown to help disadvantaged populations. Earlier this week, patrons with the Middletown Senior Center raised $500 to buy clothing, boots and other gear for youngsters whose families were struggling to keep them warm this winter.
“That’s one thing you can say about this island,” said local volunteer coordinator Carmela Geer, who helped put together Friday’s event. “The people who live here are always willing to step up and help others, even people they don’t know and will never meet. It’s an amazing place like that.”
Operating under the “Coats4Vets” flag, the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation (MMSF) partnered with the Rhode Island State Police, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, the Rhode Island Sheriff Department and municipal law enforcement officers like the Middletown and Newport police on hand Friday to make the event a success.
Police cruisers and other official vehicles from across the region went to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to pick up the buckets and deliver them to veterans in their communities.
Through the campaign, MMSF has distributed more than 40,000 coats since 2016. Organizers said the New England Patriots, Home Depot and Ocean State Job Lot were key sponsors.
“The Newport Police Department supports the program ‘Coats4Vets’ hosted by Clear Path New England because of their mission ‘To build a safe, supportive, and respectful place for veterans to seek the help and resources they need in order to successfully integrate into their communities. The family is an integral part of this and the first line of defense in upholding wellness,’” Newport Police Lt. April Amaral said. “The Newport Police believes veterans deserve respect and any assistance they may need but most likely will not actively seek.”