In March 2013, the estimated 200,000 U.S. Armed Forces veterans who had recently returned home were greeted not by hometown celebrations but by stark unemployment. If that wasn’t bad enough, the level of deteriorating mental health among Iraq and Afghanistan vets has reportedly reached epidemic proportions, with a combined 31% of vets affected with PTSD — and that’s not even taking into account the thousands of Vietnam vets who still deal with their struggles every day.
With all these troubling statistics in mind, is it any wonder that tens of thousands of vets are currently without a home? Medical bills add up. Years of substance abuse problems begin to take their toll. Credit card debt suddenly becomes a tsunami of foreclosures and court dates. And yet through all the suffering of our vets’ post-combat lives, there is hope.
It always starts the same way: small, in local communities just like yours. It takes a handful of people to band together and start collecting canned goods, spare change and even old clothing donations for veterans and in a few months’ time, residents have raised enough money to get a few vets into shelters. Or to give them warm winter coats. Or to give them a nice hot meal for once.
Remember that the best charities to donate to aren’t just the ones that you can see a major benefit from come tax season. Sometimes, all it takes to make a difference in the life of someone who’s faced unparalleled challenges and seen unspeakable horrors is a bit of your spare time — in between working, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash — spent with them. You don’t need to donate hundreds to tax-deductible charity organizations to have your generosity make a true difference.
So, how do charitable clothing donations work in the first place? It’s easy. First, set aside an amount of time, usually a weekend afternoon, where you can spend hours sorting through your closets and dresser drawers. Once you’ve gathered up a hefty pile of ripped jeans, ragged AC/DC concert tees and fabric-thinned Christmas sweaters, place them all into a bag and haul it on down to a local clothing donation bin.
It’s important to note, too, that clothing donations for veterans don’t always go directly to clothe the people. Some are resold in secondhand-store charity markets and the really ragged fabric is shredded down to its most basic forms and recycled. Still, proceeds from this process still goes to benefiting the needy folks in your area. The point is, don’t think twice about that ripped pair of corduroys from 1995. They’ll be used, trust us.
For more information about how to get involved with food and clothing donations for veterans in your neighborhood, ask a local community organizer or department head. More like this article.