For the past four years, the Cherokee County Homeless Veterans Program, which is part of American Legion Posts 45 and 316, have collected and distributed winter coats to homeless veterans, veterans programs and then to the general public ahead of the coming winter.
Last year we were able to provide about 1,200 coats to these groups with the help of corporate partner Arrow Exterminator and their partnership with GA PestVets; as a Veteran Support Group, its mission is to make pest management an industry of choice for veterans in Georgia. We want to be recognized as the best industry for veterans to work in and as an industry that supports and contributes to veterans
In 2021, however, this goal was surpassed by another 2,300 winter coats by this same group, led by Xavier Cugnon, corporate HR director of Arrow Exterminators and chairman of GA PestVets. Cugnon noted that the success of their collection program was how Arrow partnered with the Georgia Pest Control Association. We invited all of our locations to participate. Many of our locations in turn partnered with local communities. We received donations from our team members, local businesses, customers, and other veteran service organizations including the Cherokee veterans community, VETBUDS and CHVP. Donations were collected from all over the southeast states.
Early in December more 45 volunteers came to Canton Post 45 to sort the coats for final distribution, noted Betty Lewis, president of the Unit 45 Auxiliary. People and coats were everywhere at first, and then we started to package coats by the various order that had come into our program.
At first we were not sure how many coats we would be able to provide, but when we saw what we had we were confident that we could handle just about any orders. According to Jim Lindenmayer, director of CCHVP, coats were provided to the following veteran-facing and nonprofit groups: a church helping relocate a number of Afghan families who had just arrived in the Atlanta area; About Face – Atlanta focus on Homeless Veterans 150, Atlanta VA 175, Afghan families 250, American Legion Post 160 outreach 250, State of Georgia VFW 750, MUST Ministries 1,000, Home Aide 75. Others were given to other veterans and needy non-veterans. We are also keeping a number of coats for the upcoming 2022 homeless count, noted Lindenmayer.