Our veterans deserve recognition all year long but on Friday, an early Christmas present for the local veterans hospital.
A local group is making sure struggling veterans have what they need to get by this holiday season.
Santa came early this year for the West Palm Beach VA hospital, after the American Legion Riders came to deliver a special donation.
This afternoon, dozens of members from American Legion Post 47 in Lake Worth rode up in style, complete with Santa hats and even Santa himself with Mrs. Claus and their elves.
The riders presented a stack of gift cards and money totaling $12,000 to be distributed to veterans at the hospital.
Kathy "Cookie" Cook's husband started this event a decade ago but she took it over when he died a few years later. Frank “Pipes” Cook had a vision to help veterans during the holiday season and he challenged other American Legion Riders to a “Poker Run” -- where individuals went from the different posts and participated in a variety of fun activities to raise more money.
Today, Cookie has now helped bring the grand total of of VA hospital donations to $102,000.
“You have a lot of the service man coming back home they don’t have their pay. They don’t have housing, there’s a lot of things that the government can’t provide. So when we do this, we give them gift cards so that they can go to local stores and buy the groceries that they need. Or maybe the gas that they need to get to chemotherapy that they have here," she said. "Some people don’t realize that these patients come every single day."
Anyone in the community can donate to help veterans in need this holiday though the voluntary service office. They take donations of gift cards, cash or even new clothing, and other items.
Call 561-422-7373 for more information or visit www.westpalmbeach.va.gov.