Despite numerous donations, VA Clinic still needs more winter coats

Published: Dec. 4, 2018 at 4:02 PM CST
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Just last week, those with the VA Clinic in Bowling Green said they were completely out of warm, winter coats to give to veterans in need.

They like to keep a supply at their store, located right next to the clinic, where veterans to come shop for free.

"A lot of veterans I talk to when I'm down here, a lot of them don't know this place exists," said Jim Creager, a veteran who volunteers his time at the store.

"I come down here because I'm fortunate enough to have just about everything I need," he said.

But unfortunately, there are other veterans who live right here in our community who don't have everything they need.

"Back during the summer we had a homeless man come in here every time that I was in the store, and he'd get a pair of socks, a pair of jeans, and a shirt because that's all he needed," said Creager.

The clinic not only gives coats to veterans to stop by their store, but also veterans they see on the streets, so having the supply drop to zero was a big issue.

"We also work with the VA homeless program and the need for the coat is extremely important. There are veterans that are living on the street and we work with them to help provide them when they're on the street, finding these veterans to be able to go to the truck of their car and just pull out things that they need," said Penny Ritchie, clinic administrator.

After Penny reached out to the community asking for winter coats, donations came in -- one after the other. But she said the demand will quickly catch up with the supply.

"You can see that we have been blessed by our community with all of these coats that have been donated and we are still looking for some because that need is so great," she said, sorting through donations.

Ritchie went on to say, "This week we've had an influx of veterans coming in because the weather's going to get cold again."

She said when she hands a coat to a veteran, whether they're homeless or they just need some help getting a warm, winter coat, it's priceless.

"The appreciation on their face -- there's very little words spoken, but you can see on their face the appreciation for what they've just been given. These are proud veterans and we are happy to serve them."

The VA Clinic is located at 600 U.S. 31-W Bypass in Bowling Green. The store for veterans is located right next to the clinic and it's open on Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

If you would like to donate, Ritchie said there is always a need for heavy, winter coats. She said they are also asking for hand-warmers to give out, as well as long underwear for men and women.

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