Dozens of veterans received Christmas gifts for themselves and their families at Goodwill Commons

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PEORIA, Ill. — A local nonprofit is continuing its mission to make sure veterans have a merry Christmas.

Goodwill Commons put on its 9th Annual Veterans Holiday Party Friday morning.

The veterans received food and gifts, as well as the opportunity to shop for presents they can give their loved ones.

One of the veterans, Jewel McPike has participated for years and says Goodwill truly has the potential to change veterans’ lives.

A LOCAL NONPROFIT IS CONTINUING ITS MISSION TO MAKE SURE VETERANS HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS

“They help us with employment and education. They do so much and there’s a lot of veterans who don’t get that because they either don’t know or they haven’t been told. But once you get here it’s like the Walmart of veteran knowledge. they’ll give you whatever you need,” McPike said.

Assistant Director for Program Services Johanna Wagner says every year they see more and more vets taking part.

“A lot of people know us for our stores. When you donate or shop from our stores, 99 cents of every dollar goes back to our programming and services we provide here at Goodwill Commons. These services are anything from helping people find employment and housing,” Wagner said.

Wagner adds Northwest Methodist Church, Washington Auxillary, Volt, PNC Bank, CEFCU, along other groups help make this event possible.

But she says one of her favorite part about the event is seeing veterans coming back year after year for the camaraderie with their fellow veterans.

“We’ll have the opportunity for veterans to get stockings and some gifts for their family members. Then they get the gifts wrapped for them,” said Denise Hassen, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Manager at Goodwill Commons.

Hassen says this wouldn’t have been possible without organizations in the community. She adds Goodwill Commons loves stepping in to help out veterans.

“A lot of veterans take care of family members or those around them and don’t necessarily get the opportunity to take care of themselves. That’s where we step in. We try to help make sure they’re the ones taken care of so they come to us because they know we’re a safe place they can turn to,” Hassen said.

There were nearly 40 veterans at the party, and 40 smiles on their faces.

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