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Thanksgiving In December Brings Joy to Homeless Veterans

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) –While most of us consider Thanksgiving just a memory, these Veterans look forward to their helping at Northampton’s World War II Club on Sunday.

For servicemen like Gary Franklin who was a military policeman during the Vietnam War this means much more than just a meal. “Around 2002, I got badly disabled, and it got worse and worse with physical and mental health so I had problems, family drugs and alcohol of course, and homeless, which it brings us to homelessness,” said Gary Franklin.

Jonathan Bayuk, a doctor at Hampden County Physician Associates  organizes “Thanksgiving in December” with the help of 90 volunteers they  only serve homeless vets, but to give them free winter clothes all donated by volunteers. To him, setting this up was a no-brainer. “Why not? It’s a good thing to do and everybody is really dedicated to helping the community.

Hampden County Physician Associates pooled together a whole bunch of resources and we’re going to be giving some money to the Northampton Survival Center in Western Mass. People can also take advantage of Homeward Vets, an organization that places furniture in vets’ new housing, and the Vet Center, that offers them free counseling. Volunteers say this sort of thing should happen all year round, not just on the holidays. “This would be wonderful for them to expand, to help out the veterans, not only veterans, homeless, I mean, this is something that should be expanded everywhere throughout the community to help out, and this should be done all the time,” Nilda Serrano said. “Some vets don’t have the family, and so I think it’s important for us as a community to help them so that they can get back to having a normal life,” Joice Pirangelo chimed.

That’s all vets like former Staff Sgt. Douglas Taylor really want. “It’s getting together in a place like this where everybody’s kind of round robin type situation, we can see what kind of resources are available for us so we can take advantage of them so we can have a helping hand. A hand up instead of a handout, and move on with life,” he said.

The World War II Club is also holding a holiday dinner for veterans with a turkey and all the trimmings next weekend.

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