October 19, 2010 - In late summer, the Veteran's Assistance Commission asked if the police department could assist with conducting a Stand Down for homeless veterans and veterans in need. A Stand Down allows veterans in need to receive a medical and dental assessment, a haircut and a referral for other counseling services (as needed). In addition, with winter approaching, the V.A.C. has long strived toward the goal of providing each veteran in need with one winter coat and one pair of winter gloves. The V.A.C. had requested the assistance of the Vernon Hills Police Department to help with coordinating a winter clothing drive and the purchase of meal vouchers for vets through the Blue Line for the Front Line initiative.
In years past, the Vernon Hills Police Department was able to support numerous veterans causes due to an anonymous donor providing annual financial gifts to help fund such activities. Unfortunately, when the economy took a downturn in 2007, the donations ended. Without financial resources, it has been a difficult task for department members to continue.
So the Department sought assistance from the public and attempted to enlist support from others. Hawthorn Lakes and The Park retirement homes were visited and asked if they would participate. Both have large populations of veterans and great staff, and they readily accepted the challenge. Each location helped raise money and collected coats and gloves. We even had some of the residents personally knit scarves and hats for the vets! Learning Resources, a local business in Vernon Hills also heard about the drive and accepted the challenge by encouraging their employees to collect winter coats.
This initiative, which originally started in Vernon Hills, spread across the county. Before the cross-town rivalry football game between Grayslake North and Grayslake Central, both football teams held a coat drive. On behalf of both schools, Coach Steve Wood of Grayslake North donated the coats collected to the Veteran's Assistance Commission. Over eight barrels of winter coats were collected from the two schools, adding a huge amount to the items collected by individuals, both retirement homes and Learning Resources.
277 veterans were served druing the Stand Down on October 19, each given hope and the assistance to carry themselves with dignity and honor.
Special thanks to:
Coach Steve Wood (on behalf of Grayslake North and Grayslake Central High Schools)
Jennifer Connolly (on behalf of Learning Resources)
Linda Mullen (on behalf of the Hawthorn Lakes community)
Sherri Imperial (on behalf of The Park community)
It was certainly a job well done and we couldn't have done it without all the help we received!
Employees of Learning Resources drop off their donation. DC Petrillo and Sgt. Williams prepare for delivery.