Locals give to veterans in need


ADAMS -- As temperatures plummeted to below zero last week, a fundraiser to ensure no veteran is homeless is exceeding expectations.

Adams resident Jeff Lefebvre kicked off a supplies drive in November to benefit Soldier On, a nonprofit that works to get veterans off the streets.

Lefebvre already has about 40 boxes filled with donations -- including toiletries and bedding -- stacked away in his garage, waiting for Soldier On representatives to pick them up.

There is still plenty of time to donate, Lefebvre said. The drive doesn't end until Jan. 15.

So far, Lefebvre has collected about 20 large boxes of bedding, including cleaned fitted sheets, blankets, hand towels and bath towels.

"A lot of people went out and bought all new stuff," Lefebvre said.

Lefebvre also gathered about 20 smaller boxes of toiletries, such as mouthwash, shampoo, toothpaste, disposable razors, and deodorant.

After more than 10 years of raising money for Soldier On, this is the first time the organization has asked for toiletries and bedding instead of clothing.

The organization worked out a voucher agreement with the Salvation Army last year, and isn't in need of clothing anymore, Lefebvre said.

However, a number of people this winter have still donated clothing, which Lefebvre has sent along directly to the Salvation Army.

"We've actually helped two organizations," he said.

Though what is being asked for has changed, the spirit of giving hasn't. A number of people have just written checks directly to Soldier On. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts also chipped in, according to Lefebvre.

"It turned out to be really good," he said.

Donations can be made directly to Lefebvre, at Adams Town Hall, or at the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds on Park Street in Adams.

Soldier On has provided housing for homeless veterans at its Gordon H. Mansfield housing project in Pittsfield since 2010. It provides assistance to about 285 veterans throughout the Northeast every night, according to its website.

The nonprofit organization estimates that nearly 20 percent of the nation's homeless are veterans.

A Soldier On representative could not be reached on Friday.


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