CHICKASHA – The holiday season is looming, and veterans in Grady County will have a few extra items to help usher in a new year.
Students at Canadian Valley Technology Center spent the past several weeks collecting personal hygiene items, everything from first aid to shaving products and sunscreen – 1,859 items in all.
Heating and Air Conditioning instructor Brad Bute coordinated the collection to benefit the local Disabled American Veterans office, located at Sixth Street and Chickasha Avenue.
“The food pantry was full at the DAV, but they told us they could definitely use hygiene items for re-distribution to veterans,” Bute said.
The DAV office was formerly housed at CV Tech’s Chickasha Campus.
“Their office was just down the hall from me,” Bute said. “They helped one of my students and then helped me complete some paperwork,” in order to qualify for benefits.
Bute is an Air Force veteran. His HVAC students were among those in six CV Tech programs who volunteered sweat equity earlier this year in order to get the city-owned, former public safety building open for business.
The DAV building is staffed by veteran volunteers who assist former U.S. armed services members and their families. Services include a review of medical benefits and medical care. The local chapter also is working to acquire a van for transporting veterans to medical appointments.
Nationally, DAV helped more than one million veterans last year by processing nearly 251,000 claims, providing 615,000 rides to medical appointments and providing $4.3 billion in retroactive benefits, according to information supplied by DAV.
Bute said he accompanied a group of CV Tech students last summer to a leadership institute. While there, students volunteered at the Claremore Veterans Administration building.
“Some helped clean, and others worked on fencing,” Bute said. “Some took veterans fishing or played bocce ball.
“I didn’t realize the impact this made on our students. One of the girls who went retold a story of a veteran who said his entire benefits check went to pay for the medicines he is required to take to stay alive.”
Students sought to do something tangible in return for the safety and liberty each of us enjoys because of the service provided by veterans, he said.
A flyer was distributed to all classrooms at CV Tech. A contest ensued as to which program could collect the most items, he said. Digital Media Technology took first place, collecting 574 items. HVAC was runner-up with 278 items.
Grady County Dep. Michael Chavers, also school resource officer at CV Tech, said the items would be placed in bags and given to veterans who come to the DAV office. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. DAV is a non-profit charitable organization. For more information about available veterans services or to make a tax-deductible donation, call the DAV offices at (405) 448-5110.