A little friendly competition among Czech Village neighbors will support a good cause.
“It’s just another way to help,” Terri Willey said one afternoon after the lunch rush at the Blue Toad. “Just trying to keep it local.”
Willey is the bookkeeper and more – “I kind of do a lot of stuff, that was my job when I first started” – at the tavern at 86 16th Ave. SW said she got the idea for a food drive for Linn County veterans from motorcycle rallies she and her husband attended.
“I’ve worked with (county veterans affairs director) Don Tyne a couple times and they’re really nice people,” Willey said. “I asked if it would help, and he said yeah, their bank was empty.”
So Willey and staff at the Red Frog, 88 16th Ave. SW, came up with the Helping our Heroes campaign to replenish the cupboard for veterans in need. Through Nov. 15, anyone donating a food item at either tavern is entered into a drawing for six gift certificates – one each worth $10, $15, and $25 at each location.
Repeat entries are welcome.
“We’re trying to get our window full” of donated food, Willey said.
“They just called out of the blue one day and said, ‘Can we do this?’” said Phillis Pittman, county veterans service officer. “We said ‘sure.’ We always will take the donation, because we’re always struggling to keep it full .”
The pantry has been a point of entry for veterans who otherwise hadn’t used county services, Pittman said. Veterans and their families may draw from it once a week.
“It brings in veterans who may not ask for help otherwise, and it builds that relationship,” she said. “As we get to know veterans and they become comfortable enough, we find we can help them by filing a claim.”
Besides non-perishable items like canned vegetables, soup, and boxed meals, the taverns’ drive will take hygiene items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste) and gloves, hats, and scarves.