Eastern Kentucky University's Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (OMVA) is partnering with the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center to participate in its fourth annual Veterans Angel Tree.
The Veterans Tree Angel helps donate gifts from members of the community to veterans at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, located in Wilmore.
Thomson-Hood Veteran Center has served 2,782 veterans from all branches of the military since the first resident in August 1991 and is the largest operating facility run by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, according to their website.
Angel trees are located at the Whitlock and Burnam buildings and Campus Wearhouse in Richmond Plaza. Veterans’ names, Christmas wishes and clothing sizes are listed on the angels on the trees.
Director of Military and Veteran Affairs Bryan Cole said that generally veterans ask for shirts. This year, the residents have requested arts and crafts supplies.
“Generally what they want is t-shirts, either long sleeve or short sleeve t-shirts or sweatshirts,” Cole said. “People can buy their item at Campus Warehouse and they can put it in a bag and put their name on it. It's just too easy and it works out so well.”
Cole said wthe OMVA provided 30 gifts for residents the first year of the partnership in 2015 and 50 in 2016. Last year, Cole said
OMVA was able to give gifts to all 155 residents, and all 157 veteran residents will receive gifts this year, as well.
Campus Wearhouse is also a returning partner in the Veterans Angel Tree project.
Kellie Benton, the manager of Campus Wearhouse, said that sponsors could come in and take a name off the tree, purchase an EKU item for their veteran and leave it at the counter or under their tree in the store.
Cole said more than half of the gifts given last year were donated from Campus Wearhouse.
Benton said Campus Wearhouse has been advertising doorbuster sales promoting clearance items and offering $2 T-shirts on Black Friday to be donated to the veterans center.
“We would not be able to celebrate Christmas if it was not for our veterans. We could be celebrating some other holiday without their sacrifice,” Benton said. “We just ask that people do what they can, and we will work with that.”
The average cost for long sleeve tees range from $14 to $20 and short sleeve shirts are approximately $11.
Those wishing to become a sponsor or donate a gift to the Angel Tree project can take a name from one of the three locations, purchase their items and leave the gift at either Burnam House or Campus Wearhouse to be picked up and delivered by the OMVA.
All items are due before Dec. 14.
Potential donors can also contact Bryan Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-622-2345 for a name and their Christmas wish item.