NSSC holds clothing drive for homeless veterans
Sarah Ross and Darren Bean sit among the 800 pounds of clothing and items donated by the Natick Soldier Systems Center to go to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans. Ross and Bean initiated a clothing drive for five days in November, which had a massive outpouring of support.

NATICK, Mass. (Nov. 14, 2013) -- According to the Center for American Progress, there were more than 62,000 homeless veterans on any given night in the United States in 2012. This equates to 13 percent of the entire homeless population.

Although homelessness among veterans has declined nearly 17 percent since 2009, President Obama's administration has set a goal to get this number to zero by 2015.

Here at Natick, a couple of veterans are thinking the same way.

Sarah Ross, the Human Research Volunteer program coordinator, and Darren Bean, an equipment specialist with Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, wanted to do anything they could to help.

"We just wanted to give back," said Bean. "There are so many employees here, so many veterans on post, as well."

Bean added that there are more than 300 veterans on the installation and said that he and Ross, thought to put a clothing drive together to help where some are hit the hardest.

"This is supposed to be one of the worst winters, (so) we decided it was a good idea," said Bean.

Ross and Bean said the drive focused particularly on winter items such as heavy coats, jackets, gloves and boots, but added that they also received other items, like hygiene products.

Ross said oftentimes a stigma may be associated with homelessness.

"If you have a facility like the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, they have a place to go and get help, and they will have the items they need," said Ross.

She also said veterans would be able to establish relationships at NECVH to alleviate that stigma.

The clothing drive, which took place for five days with four bins placed around the installation, garnered 800 pounds of clothing and items.

"I can't believe the amount of outpouring of veteran support from civilians and veterans alike," said Ross.

Ross went on to add that even after the clothing drive ended, there were still bags of items appearing at her workstation.

"This was all in the midst of the furlough. We all lost six days this summer," Bean said. "We actually delayed (the drive) because of the government shutdown."

And through it all, Ross and Bean said the bins remained full.

Ross said with such a good response, they would like to hold clothing drives at least twice a year.

"I think people, all too often, think there are too many resources for veterans and there's no reason to be homeless," said Ross. "Well, that may be, but unfortunately, there still are some (veterans) that may slip through the cracks, so I think this is a great way to at least raise awareness."

On Nov. 14, Ross delivered the 800 pounds of clothing to the NECHV in Boston.

"(Veterans Affairs) has done a great job in the last three years to reduce veteran homelessness," Bean said.

Ross chimed in and added, "It's because of awareness like this. Massachusetts (also) has a plan to eliminate homelessness among veterans completely."

If you would like to learn more information about the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, visit www.nechv.org.

Page last updated Thu November 14th, 2013 at 00:00