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Garage sale discoveries help make sure no veteran is left behind

A gift of gently used silverware or other kitchen items may not seem like much to most people, but it is to veterans returning to civilian life who often find themselves in need of the basics.

Antrim County, MICH (WPBN/WGTU) --With his own two eyes George Siwirksi has seen it often. The reaction of a local veteran in need who is given something as simple as a set of silverware. As he puts it, "It’s shock, total shock. Unbelievable that someone would even consider doing something like that for them."

A gift of gently used silverware or other kitchen items may not seem like much to most people, but it is to veterans returning to civilian life who often find themselves in need of the basics. George and others at the Elk Rapids AMVETS and American Legion Posts are more than glad to help. "They have nothing to get started with, this way they are not starting back from nothing, not everybody coming back has a family to come home to, they are coming home maybe just to themselves," explains George.

As a veteran himself, George has been there. He knows what it’s like to start over, and that’s part of his motivation to make sure those in need don’t go without, whether it is a soldier just returning from Afghanistan or one who for years has lived just down the street. George says, "We have helped families where they were flooded out, lost everything, their apartment completely in flames, lost everything, we were able to completely furnish everything they needed to put a family household back together."

So, when someone needed something, anything, the men and women at the AMVETS and Legion made it happen. How exactly you may ask? Well, they would look for a lot of garage sale signs.

"We ask people who are having garage sales, estate sales, moving, downsizing if you have good items, perfectly serviceable and if you would like to donate them to us, we collected them in a warehouse" says George.

Volunteer veterans used to hit all the sales and get the leftovers as donations. They would stockpile them and store everything in a storage building until someone needed something. At the end of the year, whatever was still in the building, those items that weren’t given to a veteran in need, were sold at their own garage sale. George says, "It all started with one simple table with a few items on it, it raised some money to buy turkeys for some needy veterans on Thanksgiving, it escalated from there."

Escalated over the years to where they were making enough cash from the sale to fund all kinds of good deeds around town. But then their plan hit a snag. Their donated storage space, where they kept all the things they gave away or sold, was no longer an option. It changed ownership and was no longer available to them. They don’t have a place to store their garage sale finds, which limits how much they can help veterans with stuff, and how much money they can raise through their own garage sale. To try and find a solution, they have started a Go Fund Me with hopes of raising the funds to buy their own space, to try and keep alive their ability to help those who have given so much. As George sees it, taking care of those who have taken care of us is just the right thing to do. "Every single day these young guys get up and they go to war, they are giving their lives to make sure that everybody else stays safe, they don't expect a thank you, but it would be nice to be appreciated and I don't think we should ever forget that” says George.

As part of a fundraising effort, The AMVETS Post 114 will be holding a golf outing on October 6th at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort. For more information, you can call (231) 883-8769 or click here.

To learn more about the Go Fund Me efforts to find a new storage space click here.

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