Goodwill giving back to those in need who served our country

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local charity is giving back to veterans in need, giving them much needed supplies just in time for winter.

Volunteers with Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois kicking off the their 12th Annual Stand Down for Veterans event on Saturday afternoon. Organizers of the event said many veterans return home from service in need.

Whether it be a new pillow, a warm winter coat or a haircut, Goodwill is making sure local veterans are getting the help they need this winter. Johanna Wagner Assistant Director of Program Services at Goodwill said the event had to ne changed due to the pandemic.

“This is something we felt would be in greater need because of the pandemic,” Wagner said.

Normally the event is only one day and held at Dozer Park, but this year due to COVID-19 the event was spread throughout a week. Many thought the event would have to be canceled, but CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois Don Johnson said it’s for a greater cause.

“Stand down is a way for Goodwill to thank the veterans that have done what they done in the past for us and our country,” Don Johnson said.

Don Johnson said the coats and warm meals would not have been possible without the help from volunteers. Volunteers like David Johnson who’s been making hot, BBQ meals t the Goodwill Stand down events since it started. Johnson said he uses fund from his business, Pearl Technology to supply the meals.

“They leave their families and leave this country to out their lives on the line for people like me,” David Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s excited the event wasn’t canceled because for him it’s always a life changing and humbling expereience.

“It makes you feel like you’re very blessed,” David Johnson. “Any problem that I feel I have is nothing compared to when I leave seeing how strong some of these people are to get through what they get through everyday.”

With a full stomach and supplies to keep them warm for the winter, veterans were shown that people care and that there are people there to help them out. Jerrell Richmond said for a few years after his service he felt like no one cared.

“I’m just grateful, I really am. I was just homeless, just homeless a year or two ago. Trust me, it means a lot,” Richmond said.

Volunteers are needed for next year’s event, if you’re interested in helping out, you can reach out to Johanna Wagner at (309)-339-7326.

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