Riverhead Free Library hosts food drive for needy vets

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Army recruits help load a van with donated supplies.

When needy veterans find themselves asking for services from the Suffolk County United Veterans, it’s often after they’ve lost almost all their worldy possessions and are in dire need of a helping hand.

“It’s like their whole world is apart,” said the organization’s program director, Will Young.

But outside the Riverhead Free Library Wednesday afternoon, Army recruits packed two vans with donated canned food, clothes and new comforters, and the items were sent to help those veterans who need them most.

“It’s just a way to say thanks,” said the library’s circulation director Liz Stokes, who founded the food drive now in its sixth year.

The library waives overdue fines — $1 for every item brought in up to $20 — in exchange for non-perishable food donated during November. The comforters were donated by the Riverhead GOP committee.

More than 1,000 items have been donated this year so far for the event dubbed “Operation Forever Grateful.”

“We’re seeing a really good turnout,” said library director Lisa Jacobs.

The food drive will continue through the month of November.

The SCUV helps find housing for homeless vets including at its 24-bed emergency shelter, the Veterans Place in Yaphank. The shelter also runs a food pantry open to veterans and their families. The organization aims to help vets who have fallen on hard times overcome obstacles and lead an independent life.

Mr. Young, an Army vet himself, said the needy vets are extremely grateful for the action.

“It’s so much joy to know that what you do is appreciated by those you do it for,” he said.

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