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Where the money goes for the VVA by guest columnist Doug Darling

While Congress may still be wondering where their appropriated money has gone to, our fellow citizens of Bonner County can rest a bit easy when it comes to the funds you’ve donated over the past year to the local Vietnam Veterans Chapter—it all goes back to the community in the form of assistance to needy veterans and their families.

VVA Chapter #890 offers two graduating seniors from area high schools scholarships in academic or trade colleges of their own choice. These yearly scholarships can be used toward tuition, books, or materials to further their education.

Chapter #890 also offers assistance to families for emergency housing, food, utility assistance or firewood. These gifts, loans and grants are to help a vet or family when they cannot pay their utility bill, pay for emergency housing or need additional firewood to heat their home.

Food vouchers are also given to purchase food. We also donate to area food banks to stockpile food during the year. At our fundraising events, such as the July stand-down, we distribute the leftover food supplies to food banks, area soup kitchens, and to veterans needing food to last them through the winter months. Donated surplus clothing is also distributed to vets during the winter months, more surplus from the summer’s stand down.

Chapter administrative costs such as building rent, maintenance, utility costs, and insurance for our functions are less than 1 percent of our costs to put on these events. We hold these fundraising events during the year to provide these services to our fellow vets and their families and ask that if you’d like to be involved, contact us! We certainly do have a lot of fun in raising the dollars. We get donations from the public but do not receive any funds from the VA, federal, or state government, though we have applied for, and are expected to receive, a VA Grant this year to help pay a portion of the food for our annual stand-down.

We believe we owe it to our country’s veterans, as well as our fellow citizens, to help repay those who’ve unselfishly donated a part of their own lives to help make this country such a wonderful place to live in.

  Some of our events and expenditures include:

A twice-yearly highway litter clean-up

Firewood cutting and costs for saw and splitter maintenance $25

 Rummage sale proceeds average $7,000 (look for it in early August)

 Minor weatherization of veterans’ and widows’ homes $400

Wheel chair ramps or porches (donated labor and materials)

 Veterans Golf Scramble proceeds $4,500

 Stand down donations totaled $10,000 (used half in 2008 and half planned for 2009)

Assistance with food for needy $2,500

Assistance with emergency housing, rent, and mortgage $3,000

Assistance with utilities $1,000

 Funding for counseling sessions $500

Funding for transportation costs to VA Hospital $200

Donated $500 towards DAV Van

In addition, we’ve given assistance with VA claims and paperwork, funded classes for PTSD and other disorders associated with veterans, donated household furnishings to needy vets, given donations to other local veterans groups such as the VFW and DAV chapters, donated manpower to Veterans Day celebrations, and time and equipment to the 4th of July celebrations at area cemeteries. We’ve also manned booths at events like the County Fair and at gun shows. On average, our V.V.A. Chapter donates about $5,000 directly back to members of the community for utility assistance, emergency housing, rent, mortgage help, food, transportation, and heating (mostly firewood we cut and store during the summer months).

 We could always use helpers and volunteers at our events so if you’d like to join in the fun or know a Vietnam vet who’d like to join our group, our meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at VFW Hall in Sandpoint (corner of Pine and Division) at 6 pm. If you’d like to donate to V.V.A. Chapter #890 you can do so at PO Box 2014, Sandpoint, ID 83864

I know I’ve given only a rough outline due to space requirements but if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us or simply swing by a monthly meeting. Thank You for your time. Respectfully;  Douglas Darling, President Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter # 890

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