Two groups of volunteers brought the donations to Augusta’s Bread of Life Veterans Shelter.

AUGUSTA — Several volunteers from a South Portland-based nonprofit delivered 25 personal care packages and nonperishable food items Thursday afternoon to the Bread of Life Veterans Shelter.

A group of 10 from Partners for World Health also delivered socks, blankets, paper goods and mittens. Shaylah Gordon, of Bucksport, helped organize the drive and Thursday’s donations were among items collected over about two weeks at the Marketplace at Augusta.

“We wanted to do something in the Augusta area because it’s a central point for all of us, and I really wanted to do something for vets because I have vets in my family,” Gordon said.

With so many local organizations helping, Gordon chose the homeless veterans shelter because she thinks they are underserved and don’t receive the attention they deserve.

“They’ve done so much for us and we need to do more for them,” Gordon said. “It’s Christmas, they’re homeless and they need help, and it seemed like a great opportunity to give more to the people that have given so much to us.”

Rather than just giving canned goods or other nonperishable items, the volunteers decided to make holiday care packages that included toothbrushes, deodorant, toothpaste and other toiletries. In all, Partners for World Health will distribute more than 50 care packages to homeless shelters across Maine.

Molly Sirois, Bread of Life Ministries’ assistant executive director, said the care packages are especially helpful.

Aside from the tangible help the donations provide, Sirois said, the donations show the veterans there are people in the community looking out for them.

“A lot of the veterans that come here don’t have a lot of hope, so being able to come here and see people caring about them and wanting to give items that will help them be healthy brings a whole different feel,” Sirois said. “It means a lot, especially at Christmas, when a lot of our veterans don’t get to see their families.”

Army veteran Dave Austin, of North Berwick, said there is a lot of talk about how much support veterans need, and a lot of it seems to go unheard. But to see a group of strangers from around Maine coming together to support veterans they’ve never met is priceless, he said.

“If it weren’t for these organizations, I wouldn’t have gotten a second chance,” Austin said. “I’ve never seen this much love for veterans in my life, and we need more and more organizations to help the veterans that need it.”

Partners for World Health volunteers Jenna Nesbit, of Oakland, and Sierra Harris, of Damariscotta, said they hope bringing care packages to the Bread of Life Veterans Shelter becomes an annual tradition.

“I would love to see it continue, because (this shelter) is such an amazing place,” Nesbit said. “The more we can bring and the more awareness will just allow these vets to have a quality of life they might not have had without our help.”

Gordon, Nesbit and Harris said they gathered all the items to donate to the shelter with just two weeks of planning, so next year they expect to double or even triple the amount of care packages and other items.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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