Local residents, VFW team up to bring Christmas to veterans home
Residents and staff of the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home at King were treated to a special holiday surprise Christmas morning, as members of Merrill VFW Post 1638 and VFW Post 1638 Auxiliary arrived amidst a small convoy of trucks and trailers; bearing gifts.
While the 4th annual event in itself may not have been a complete surprise, the sheer volume of over 1,000 wrapped gifts certainly raised some brows and smiles, according to Northwoods Veteran’s Post board chairman and event co-oprganizer Paul Russell.
“The expressions on some of the faces when they saw us unloading all those presents was pretty memorable. I don’t think anyone was expecting the number of gifts we were able to provide this year. Every single person who was at the home on Christmas received a gift, staff and residents alike,” he explains.
“This year’s event was one again a team effort between post and auxiliary members, as well as Merrill Area Housing Authority (MAHA) staff and tennants.
While auxiliary members set about purchasing gifts such as personal hygeine items, puzzles , books and DVD’s, MAHA staff worked with residents of Jenny Towers to wrap the gifts and address Christmas cards. The effort, in conjunction with generous donations from T.B Scott Library, had been in motion since this past summer.
This year alone, residents wrapped over 700 gifts.
The tradition of making the 160 mile round-trip trek to the Veteran’s Home began in 2016, after VFW leaders were made aware of a shortage of gifts for residents on Christmas.
“That’s just not acceptable,” Russell adds. “Nobody should ever be left out or alone on Christmas. We talked and decided that had to change. It’s been an excellent team effort every year thanks to our post and auxilary members have made it happen.”
This year’s event set a new record, delivering over four times as many gifts as the inaugural event on Christmas Day of 2016 and topping last year’s record of 700.