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Goodwill gives back to local veterans

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PEORIA (HOI) - Goodwill of Central Illinois kicked off their 12th annual Stand Down for Veterans Saturday, with a goal to help veterans in need gear up for the winter.

"A lot of our veterans are either living on the street or are at risk," said Assistant Director for Program Services, Johanna Wagner. "Especially right now with the pandemic, this was maybe something that will help them get through one less expense for them."

The event provided everything veterans could need to stay warm and safe this winter, providing new winter jackets, boots, gloves, sweatshirts, blankets, along with other essentials.

"We actually have purchased about $20,000 worth of brand new items to go along with the stuff we get from the stores to make it worthwhile for the people to get what they want," said President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois, Don Johnson.

The event is normally held for one day but due to the pandemic, they've had to adjust their event spreading it out for a whole week.

It will resume on October 19 and run through October 24. The event will be from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM each day.

"I think its brought challenges this year and took a lot more planning and a lot more strategy behind it to make this year work," said Johnson.

As a way to say thank you, the event also provided free food, haircuts and flu shots.

"Sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday we forget we get to go to bed and sleep restfully and peacefully because of our veterans protecting us and keeping us safe," said Wagner.

Veterans in attendance were grateful for the support from the community and all the resources provided.

"It's touching, it brings a tear to your eye because during this pandemic everybodys suffering," said veteran Terrence Dunigan. "It shows that somebody cares and that somebody appreciates the veterans."

Andie Bernhardt

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