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Community came together for veterans

The Grand Island Independent - 12/29/2017

It is with a heart of gratitude and a spirit of humility that I take the time to appreciate our wonderful community. After coming off a physically, mentally and emotionally draining USO show in September for our Hero Flight veterans, I chose to take a USO show to our veterans in the hospital on Dec. 21. With only three months of planning and six weeks of actual rehearsal time with a group that has never worked together as a whole, we set forth to do our best to honor our hospitalized veterans. With a "nod of blessing" from my store director (Brent Grummert) at Hy-Vee, a plan was put forth to gather gifts and volunteers.

At a time when many folks might have chosen to focus on their own family needs with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the community rose to the occasion. Tears were shed during music rehearsals. Checks, cash and gift card donations were placed in my hands. One elderly woman grabbed my arm and said, "You're the guy going to the veterans hospital for Christmas! My ladies church group decided we want to help you." She then reached into a coin purse and removed a rolled up $5 bill and gave it to me. I was immediately reminded of the "widow's mite." (Luke 21:1-4)

A team of volunteers to serve at the hospital was recruited. Another team of gift wrappers cataloged and wrapped all of the gifts donated. Local businesses came on board also. Every person who helped me to make this desire possible for our veterans knows who they are. And so it is to you I share this message I received from the VA hospital, five days after "mission accomplished":

"Thanks for all of your work! Several of the veterans have never been treated this good at Christmas ... period! Pretty high praise and a job well done! God Bless!"

I salute our wonderful community, which has exemplified the meaning of the time-honored motto adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1883 ... "Semper Fidelis." In spite of our differences in faith, politics and even sports (go Hawks ... THAT WAS A JOKE!) we are, as a community ... "Always Faithful."


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