Throughout December, EKU’s office of military and veterans affairs will run their Angel Tree Drive for the veterans of Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, Kentucky.
“I got the idea while driving and listening to a radio station talking about an Angel Tree Drive at a nursing home in Louisville,” said Angel Food Drive director Bryan Cole.
The Veterans Angel Tree Drive has been in existence since 2015, and has always been centered around the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center. Cole said the veterans center is set up similar to a veterans hospital and has approximately 190 patients and residents.
“There are a lot of people in nursing homes that get overlooked during the Holiday season,” said Cole.
In the drive’s first year, the office of military and veterans affairs set out a tree with only 30 veterans and their requested gifts on it.
“It was so well received that the next year, we upped the number to 50,” Cole said.
This year Cole hopes to provide all 192 veterans in the veterans center with a Christmas gift.
“They don’t want much,” Cole said.
Most of the residents ask for shirts or sweaters, sometimes from different schools or branches of the military, Cole said. Gifts usually range from $10 to $15.
Campus Rec, admissions, and housing have helped give the Veterans Angel Tree Drive a head start by providing shirts from EKU events that happened over the semester.
“But there are still plenty of residents who still need a present,” said Cole.
The prevalence of residents who asked for EKU shirts sparked a partnership between the office of military and veteran affairs and Campus Wearhouse in Richmond Center.
“Since Campus Wearhouse is so central, people can just pick a name off the tree, choose a t-shirt from Campus Wearhouse or any surrounding store, and get right back to their shopping,” said Cole.
When a shopper has picked their present, all they need to do is drop it off at the designated area within Campus Wearhouse, said Cole. The strategy has already picked up steam.
“We’ve already had around 70 to 80 veterans picked,” said Campus Wearhouse worker Leslie Roney.
Besides Campus Wearhouse, there are trees in the Burnam House and Whitlock that students can visit to pick out their veteran.
“If students don’t have access or have time to go to one of these spots, they can feel free to email me at email@example.com and I can provide them with a resident and a gift,” Cole said.
Once students buy their presents, they can turn them in to The Burnam House before the Dec. 21.
Gifts will be delivered by the staff of the office of military and veterans affairs from Dec 21 to the 23 around the nursing home’s schedule, Cole said.
“Since a lot of these residents don’t get any presents or even any visitors during the Holiday season, this Angel Tree Drive is truly a great thing to be a part of,” Cole said.