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January 10, 2013

Keeping warm

Local chapter never stops seeking help for homeless vets

Tonawanda News — Gerald Tidd has seen how bad it can get out there.

He’s visited the Homeless Veterans Center in Buffalo. He’s seen men, women and children who have been sleeping on the street, in old houses, in cars, under bridges.

“If a person went down there and saw the condition of these men and women, he’d cry,” said Tidd of North Tonawanda, commander of the Chapter 120, Roll of Honor, Disabled American Veterans. “These people come in, sometimes they have no socks on. Or they’re wearing a summer coat, or a coat that’s torn. They have no razors. They have no toothbrush.

“You’d cry.”

For the past few years, the chapter has ramped up its campaign on the part of disabled and homeless veterans and their families in the Western New York area, collecting clothing and other items for those in need of help. Items are passed on to the Homeless Veterans Center in Buffalo and other organizations.

Right now, there’s a desperate need for such things as new long johns and underwear, socks, toiletries and nonperishable food, Tidd said. Those who wish to donate can drop items off at 460 North Ave., North Tonawanda or at 1945 Parker Blvd., Town of Tonawanda. For more information, those interested can call Tidd at 310-2004.

“We want to feed them,” he said of  “We want to get them help. To make their lives a little better ... give them some hope for the future, get them back to a normal life. Because living on the street is not a normal life.”

Chapter 120 of the Disabled American Veterans was founded in 1950 and currently has 650 members, ranging from a few remaining World War II veterans through the Vietnam and Korean eras right up to those from more recent wars, Tidd said. He has been commander about 21/2 years, during which time the group also has given out out hams for Easter, dozens of turkeys (and dinner trimmings) for Thanksgiving and thousands of dollars in Walmart and Burger King gift cards, as well as bus tokens.

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