Written by Jessy Howe
An estimated 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates an additional 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions.
After hearing this heartbreaking number, the question that comes to mind is how do we help? How do you lift those who’ve sacrificed so much, and fought for our freedom, back up to their feet? These courageous men and women who have proudly served our country should never be without shelter, food, and support.
As the “Movers Who Care®,” TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® aims to provide critical assistance to local veterans in crisis with a program called Movers for Military. With local TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® locations partnering with schools and local businesses to collect essential items, we are able to deliver essential items to veterans living in shelters during Veterans Day.
Marisa Elias, sales and marketing manager at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® San Diego, worked to coordinate the program locally for their fourth year of participation. Each year, the program continues to grow with new partners coming on board, resulting in even more donated items for local homeless veterans. With the help of her marketing and sales intern James Kearns, the two involved 23 community partners including schools and businesses to host collection sites.
“It is estimated that up to 40% of San Diego’s homeless population are veterans. Movers for Military draws much-needed attention to our homeless right here in San Diego,” said Elias. “With a particularly strong military presence here, we’re eager to do our part to help. These men and women have a tough life and our Movers for Military drive works to make it a little easier by providing them with essential, everyday items including clothing and toiletries.”
The San Diego team is ecstatic to have collected 1,718 items for veterans in need which are delivered to the Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD), a partnership that began four years ago.
“VVSD really does fantastic work, not only housing homeless veterans but also providing them with a range of services including employment, housing, and medical referrals,” Elias said. “Mental health counseling is available every night and AA and NA meetings are held every morning. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is more than happy to help such a wonderful cause.”
Similar to San Diego, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Tampa, Fla., ran the Movers for Military program for the fourth consecutive year.
“Living our core values is very important and we want to show our support for homeless veterans and their families who all deserve care for defending our freedom every day,” said regional sales and marketing coordinator Eugenia Parlow, who focused her efforts to coordinate the program in Tampa.
2015 marked their second annual golf outing held at The Ridge Golf Course, a community partner involved with Movers for Military. The event brings the community together with 51 business and individual sponsors and a number of volunteers to assist in set up, registration, selling fifty-fifty tickets, working the refreshment cart, and the many other duties it takes in hosting the tournament. The golf outing brought in $7,600 which went toward buying essential items on the charity’s wish lists.
With the support of 34 community partners and the success of the golf tournament, the Tampa franchise was able to collect a grand total of 13,216 items to be donated.
“Vietnam Veterans of Tampa and Saint Vincent DePaul Veteran Services appreciate our help and support as these items go a long way in helping them get items to our homeless veterans that are living in camps,” Parlow said.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is committed to the communities it is privileged to serve. Through the Movers for Military program, we hope to provide critical support to the brave men and women who have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedom. To learn more or to get involved, please visit our community service page.