VFW, Lions renew giving tradition
A holiday tradition was renewed Tuesday when members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Appalachia and Big Stone Gap Lions Clubs delivered gifts to Heritage Hall Nursing Home residents.
Members of VFW John Fox Jr. Post 5715 and the two Lions Clubs made their rounds with Santa Claus, delivering gifts to more than 140 people, including nine military veterans.
As VFW Chaplain Pete Ramey explained, the event began years ago as a way to gift the veterans living at the nursing home. But the spirit of the season moved the participants to widen the circle and include all the residents.
“We started out doing it just for the veterans,” Ramey said. “I couldn’t stand to see people wanting gifts. I said if we can’t get enough gifts for everybody, I don’t want to go.”
And, as Ramey added, the gifts distributed aren’t as important as the fellowship provided by the visitors. “They (residents) get provided for here, but to see Santa Claus, they remember when they were young. That’s worth everything you could give them.”
“It’s worth everything to see the smiles on their faces,” Ramey said.
The residents who are veterans are “our primary concern, but we are concerned about people in general,” Ramey said.
The participation of the Lions Clubs and Food City’s offer of discounted prices for the charity made it possible to do more than buy gifts for the Heritage Hall residents. With $140 left over after buying gifts, the VFW made $70 donations to both the Big Stone Gap and Appalachia food banks, Ramey said.