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Navy veteran set to get new home after community fundraiser

Fundraider was created after WPTV published story about veteran
Posted at 11:58 PM, Sep 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-04 23:58:20-04

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — A U.S. Navy veteran will get a new trailer after people donated more than $35,000 to help him purchase one.

Due to a broken air conditioner, Alexander Jenkins slept outside at an Okeechobee RV park during heat advisories this August. WPTV viewers helped buy the man a new air conditioning unit, but a larger fundraiser was created Aug. 9 to buy the man a trailer.

Keith Waits, who is the general manager for Palm Beach RV, said the company was able to knock off the price on a new trailer by about $28,000. He said the company was drawn to the story because Jenkins was a veteran and their philosophy to help other people

"The Lord says to give to those who can't repay you back," Waits said. "That's what it comes down too."

Waits also said it makes him feel bad to see other people live in poor conditions.

Antonietta Pereira, who is a U.S. Air Force veteran, said she began to visit Jenkins and bring him groceries after watching his story on WPTV. She said she felt moved to help him because she is a veteran.

"You never leave a brother or sister behind no matter the circumstances," Pereira said. "And when I saw it on the news, I knew I couldn’t just leave him behind.”

Pereira, who is also in remission from cancer, said she was surprised people donated to the GoFundMe page. She also said they heard from another veteran, who said he could only give $10.

"Everyone is struggling today," Pereira said. "So $10 meant a lot to some people."

U.S. veteran Alexander Jenkins is enduring the sweltering heat without air conditioning in Okeechobee County.
U.S. veteran Alexander Jenkins is enduring the sweltering heat without air conditioning in Okeechobee County.

Jenkins said he is thankful to everybody, who donated or tried to support him with other resources. He said he's excited to have something new.

"All my life, I've lived poor," Jenkins said. "I lived in shacks, I've lived outside, I've lived in the streets one time and now maybe once in my life I can have something nice and new."

A date to deliver the new trailer hasn't been set, but Jenkins said the next step is to clean out his own trailer.