That was the final line in an email from a new pal, Bev.
I 'met' Bev on a local coupon site, 918CouponQueen. We started chatting because she was looking for coupons to buy some items to donate to local veterans, and although I didn't have the coupons left to share, I did have some items to donate.
Bev has been serving those who proudly served our country. During the Holiday season, this means collecting gifts for hospitalized veterans to choose to give their loved ones. These gifts are 'paid in full', a thanks to the veteran...complete with wrapping paper. The Tulsa World did a recent story on Bev's project which you can read more about here.
But the need is great all year, at every Veterans Hospital around the country. They are constantly treating new patients, many of whom are admitted without personal items, clothing, or the means to obtain any.
I asked Bev if she would share some of her recent experiences while volunteering, and if I could share them with others. I will share a few stories over time, but here is one now, recounting her first visit to Muskogee VA Hospital:
My aunt had donated a robe....not a new one for Dot's Christmas Store, but for the "clothes closet" (for patients who come in with nothing and need things, so they accept used clothes for the clothes closet). It was a nice robe but my aunt didn't wear it much, as she didn't like the way it fit her.
We asked the patients who they wanted a gift for. Most said their wife. We had jewelry and some bath salts, some candles, jewelry boxes and lots of other things to choose from.
When I went to this one man's room he said he wanted a robe. I told him that I didn't have that but offered other ideas......It was like he wasn't going to hear me....He didn't seem to have a hearing problem...just selective hearing. He simply didn't want to hear me say that.
He said, "She is a small woman."...
Me: "I don't have a robe."
He said, "Yes, she needs a nice robe."
Me: "I don't have a robe."....
Him: Can I get it for under $20?
Me: after I explained he had already paid in full "...but I don't have a robe".
He was very sweet and patient just telling me what he wanted, like I wasn't understanding the request.
Finally I gave up and said "I have one but it is used. You don't want a used gift for a Christmas gift, do you?"
He smiled like he knew I had it all along and said, "Yes, that will be fine." I told Brenda that I just hated for him to have something to give that had been worn. She and I looked it over and thought maybe it was actually new because it looked so good. It was pretty and very soft.
I took it to him. He had a big smile when he saw it, took my hand and shut his eyes real tight and was very quiet like he was praying, then he opened them, smiled and said joyfully, "I love you! I love everyone."
He told me he had been a chaplain for 19 years.
This was the first time I had been to the Muskogee VA hospital. I usually put things on the VA van to take down to get there and in the past 2 years I think we only had one other robe.
My aunt had missed the story in the paper and didn't know about our latest project until a couple of days ago. My aunt and uncle came by the house the day before I went and dropped it off with some other gifts.
I had planned to be there early enough to give the items for the "clothes closet" to the Chief of Voluntary services before we got started. I had items to take with me on the dining room table. One of those items was a pack of gum. My darling husband is always picking up and putting everything away behind me. He thought it was something I had left out and had put my gum out of sight, and I left without it. I stopped at the store, which caused me to be too late to see the chief before his meeting; that meant I had to keep the clothes and robe with me until later in the day when the chief was out of his meetings.
I was not too happy with my husband until I realized how even that fit perfectly in with God's timing to answer a prayer.
I think Bev's account goes to show how things do happen for a reason...
Why else would I have had extra lotion coupons to give to anyone who wanted them, and why did Bev join the coupon forum just today, and comment, wanting those coupons? She didn't have to explain why she wanted them...we would have offered them up...but I am so grateful she spoke up...I feel I have another cause I'd love to be involved in, to share information with others about the great need. I am fortunate to have learned some awesome couponing skills this year, which allows me to have an abundance of personal care items to share with friends & strangers alike. I'll admit, I have been blind to the need. I have taken servicemen & women for granted...crazy since my parents both served in the AirForce during Vietnam. These men & women have given us so much, and I will make a point to give back from now on.
Please, wherever you are, find even 1 item you can donate this week, or 1 hour you can spend talking & listening to someone who needs a friend. If you knew it took so little to make someone happy, wouldn't you do it?
Here is information on donating to the Oklahoma American Veterans, please seek out a center near you!
EVERYDAY CARE ITEMS NEEDED:
• socks, both male and female
• shaving items, such as Bic disposable razors
• shampoo (trial sizes)
• baby powder (trial size is a good size)
• magazines (specifically those about cars, hunting, fishing, boating, mechanics, computers, etc.)
• no soap--the hospital no longer accepts soap
• Ziplock bags for packaging the items
• gas cards for VA vans to take patients to the hospital
• playing cards
• DVD players (to be checked out for use by patients, while in the hospital)
• nail clippers
• hand and body lotions
• tee shirts (all sizes)
• briefs (underwear both men's and women's--all sizes)
• lip balm
• small tubes of denture adhesive
• hair brushes for men and women
• pocket combs
• emery boards
• puzzle books
The Sunday newspaper usually has coupons in with the ads that
allow us to stretch our money further to buy needed items. We
greatly appreciate them.
Items that aren't necessities, but Vets are so appreciative when receiving them:
•IPODS (younger patients really enjoy being able to use an IPOD during their stay)
•CDs (could "check out" during their stay)
•hand held games (could "check out" during their stay)
•wheel chair cups