PDT Staff Writer
For the second time in less than a year, Mike Bell — a disabled veteran — went homeless for two days to raise food, money and awareness for Veterans Helping Veterans and Others.
“We had a lot of people come out and help. We were able to collect a little over 2,700 cans of food and $2,040.11 that will go to the purchase of meats,” Bell said. “We consider the event a success. My original goal was 7,000 cans of food, but you know a food pantry looks bigger when it’s empty. Once we put all of the food in there, it was three quarters of the way full. We would not have been able to fit 7,000 in that food pantry.”
During the event the five veterans stayed stayed in front of Daymar College on Rhodes Avenue in New Boston and were equipped with only the cloths on their back. The group will not have access to cell phones or computers during the event.
He said in March, when Bell did the event himself, it raised 5,000 cans of food and $1,000. According to Bell a large number of people from the community stopped by to lend their support and donations to the veterans.
Bell said he had planned on doing this in November, but due to current need he decided to step the date up.
“I talked with John Foster (Founder of Veterans Helping Veterans and Others) and about two and a half weeks ago, they gave away 1,000 pounds of food. That cleared out their foodbank. He told me he did not know where the next round of food would come from,” Bell said. “In this day and age we should not have hungry veterans and families, but we do. But, this is reality and it’s our job go out there and try to change that reality.”
Bell said the food pantry has four freezers that have sat empty four four months because they can’t get fresh meat.
Foster said the situation at the food pantry has reached emergency level.
“Our food pantry is down to hardly nothing, we have no meat in the freezer. We have no money for bread and other things to give to our veterans,” Foster said.
He said the Veterans Helping Veterans and Others food pantry has made an impact on the community.
“With the money and food we raise it will allow Veterans Helping Veterans to continue doing what they do when it comes to their pantry,” Bell said.
He said all of the canned food and money have been delivered to Veterans Helping Veterans and Others.
Bell said he already has another date set for a similar event.
“Right now we are looking at the weekend of Black Friday. I want to intertwine it with toys for tots. The food that we raise will go towards a Christmas dinner for vets,” Bell said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.