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Better Christmas for our veterans

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The Veterans Hospital Voluntary Services Department put out a call for volunteers to deliver Christmas trees and accessories to 19 homes in Sacramento County.

They were the homes of military veterans who had been homeless and recently placed in housing, thanks to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, known as HUD-VASH.

Figuring they needed a little help to get their homes in the holiday spirit, Maria Almes, chief of voluntary services of the VA Hospital, coordinated the effort and received volunteers from the American Red Cross Capital Chapter Region, the military, Elks Lodge 2484 and Almes’ husband, Robert.

A1C Thomas Morrison hands a tree to Red Cross volunteer Roland King.

Holland Golec passes Girl Scout cookies to another volunteer.
Justin Tweedy carries a tree to a vet’s front door.

Trees, ornaments, lights, stands and tree-topper stars were divided up between four vehicles and delivered to south Sac, Citrus Heights and points in between.

The veterans were truly grateful. I was paired with Justin Tweedy, a member of the Elks Lodge.

We first stopped at the home of Sean. He served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He is a single dad with a 2-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy.

Tweedy hands Sean his Christmas goodies.

Last year they had no tree.

He said that what he received is really going to make a good Christmas for his kids.

The second home we delivered to was where U.S. Navy veteran Laura Sondrini lives with her daughter, Michele, and granddaughter, Noella. She told us she’d had no real tree for the past six years.

They were excited to receive the tree and ornaments.

Thanks to volunteers Bill Burchfield, Holland Golec, A1C Thomas Morrison, Bill and Monica Bailey, Jim Laing, Roland King, Wendell Summers, Justin Tweedy and Robert Almes, 19 U.S. military veterans will have a happier Christmas.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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