Veterans shop for fellow vets who need a helping hand
By EMILY BALSER | The Tribune-Review | Published: December 23, 2018
GREENSBURG, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Leechburg resident Lucy Peters spent her Saturday morning shopping for groceries to give to veterans in need this Christmas.
For Peters, the trip meant more than just helping others.
She knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of the program and the relief it can provide a family.
She and her husband, Daniel, both Army veterans, received groceries last year after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and trying to take care of their three young boys.
"This made my Christmas (last year)," she said. "You don't even have words."
Peters was shopping as part of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1416 in Lower Burrell's annual shopping trip to provide food for veterans in need so they can have a full Christmas meal for their families.
This is the fourth year the Marines have done the shopping trip. This year, it will help 24 veterans across the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Now in remission, Peters wanted to be a part of giving relief to another family that may be facing hardship.
"This was us trying to help (give) back," she said.
About 30 veterans and volunteers lined up their carts with their shopping lists in hand and wheeled around Community Market in Lower Burrell. They grabbed all the ingredients for a big holiday dinner — ham, turkey, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce and everything in between.
They also include a few other items such as cereal and eggs to provide a few more meals.
"Hopefully they'll have enough that will last for another week or so," said Jim Walters, with the Marine Corps League.
Including the two dozen veterans who received food this year, the program has provided help to more than 60 veterans since it started.
"It's hard for us to find the families because veterans just don't want to admit that they need our help," Walters said. "We rely on family members, neighbors, friends to let us know if someone's in need."
Linda Thimons, wife of Community Market co-owner George Thimons, helped lead the group around the store to make sure they got everything they needed.
"It's fun to watch them all together — they still have that bond," she said. "It just makes you feel good to help."
She said it was all hands on deck to get them through the store and checked out quickly.
"We have a great group of employees," she said.
Walters said it typically costs between $4,000 and $5,000 to provide all the meals. They do fundraising throughout the year to help cover the costs.
He said knowing they are making a difference for their fellow veterans makes all of the work worth it.
"The military is a brotherhood. A lot of people can't understand it — don't want to understand it," Walters said. "When you're a member of the military, it's for life, and that's our sole purpose for doing this."
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