With a clear mission of keeping as many veterans and their families warm this winter, numerous American Legion Auxiliary units across Vermont contributed hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens to the Tree of Warmth, a winter gear giveaway set up by Unit 36 of Ludlow, Vt.
More than 250 veterans and their family members benefitted from the statewide project, which was held at White River VA Medical Center in White River. An artificial tree — adorned with donated winter gear attached to the tree by decorated clothespins — was set up inside the facility’s entryway for two days in November.
“When you see a veteran with no hat, no scarf, no gloves, and it’s cold outside, you know it’s time to do something. Whether you’re a veteran or a 6-year-old kid, you need to stay warm. And if we can help, shouldn’t we?” Unit 36 member Debra Tiernan said.
Veterans, their family members, or caregivers were able to choose from the selection on the tree or in the bins of additional hats, scarves, gloves and mittens that surrounded the well-stocked tree. Adult and children sizes were available.
The 150-plus individuals who selected items were able to get extras for family members who weren’t with them at the time, Tiernan said.
The winter gear came from Vermont American Legion Family members and other community contributors, while some items were handknitted by Auxiliary members. Spearheading the project was ALA member Janet Osmer of Unit 25 in Windsor, Vt.