VFW Post 2123, Red Cross lights up veterans’ vacations | Winchester Star

WINCHESTERVFW 2123 station of Winchester, with the assistance of the Winchester-based chapter of American Red Cross of the Great Shenandoah Valley, brings holiday cheer to elderly and ill military veterans.

Rich Petro, commander of the Foreign Wars Veterans Post who meets at Elks Lodge at 466 Front Royal Pike, said on Wednesday that vacation visits with infirm veterans are a tradition with his organization dating back “at least 10 years, if not more. “

The tradition started with the VFW Post 2123 helper, Petro said. One of its members, Theressa Russell, led the effort each year until her death in January 2018.

“Our regular [VFW] the members took it from there and we continued to do it, ”he said.

The outreach effort has grown since Russell’s death. While his main focus was on veterans in the Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation Center at 380 Millwood Ave. in Winchester, Petro said this year’s tours will include five local facilities: Evergreen, Sent from Winchester, Municipalities of the green valley, Hill and Winchester Spring Arbor.

About 55 veterans will receive gift bags filled with comfort items such as toiletries, puzzles, socks and first aid kits. The VFW got help filling the bags from the local Red Cross, where community volunteer leader Leslie Caliva said they had additional items that Procter and Gamble Co. had made a donation for the patients of the Veterans Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

“It was a perfect opportunity, one that we couldn’t pass up,” Caliva said Wednesday of her help with the VFW gift bags. “A lot of people don’t know how much the American Red Cross supports our veterans and their families.”

Perhaps the most special items in the gift bags are the Christmas cards signed by the members of VFW Post 2123. Petro said each bag will include multiple cards so that recipients can display them if they wish. in their room.

Petro has said he and a few other VFW members will deliver the gift bags early next week. Three of the healthcare facilities participating in the event said the group would not be able to visit veterans individually due to COVID-19 security protocols, but Spring Arbor and Hilltop agreed to let volunteers in to spend short vacations socializing after them. ‘have been tested for the coronavirus.

“It’s a tough time of year for our veterans and we just hope it will bring some light and joy to their day,” Caliva said.

“The last time we were there one of the members said, ‘Let’s sing Christmas carols,’ Petro said. ‘I looked around the room and, even though they [the resident veterans] weren’t singing at the top of their lungs, they could be seen jumping to the music or speaking the words. It was very inspiring to see how they got into the spirit.

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