Federal budget cuts equal fewer military surplus items in the way of boots, and that has left one Kansas City group struggling to find enough footwear for homeless veterans.
Heart of America Stand Down Foundation provides clothing, shoes and other supplies to veterans that help them survive the bitter cold months.
The organization has been doing this for 20 years, but this is the first year they have needed to ask for the public's help.
"Now it's your time to help them, pay them, back," said Bob Waechter, the foundation's co-founder.
Co-founder Art Fillmore said boots are desperately needed.
"We have very few," said Fillmore. "We are really in a full-out boot drive right now."
The organization now has 100 pairs of boots in its warehouse. Most are odd sizes, such as size 16.
"We are going to have 500 vets show up and it's very disheartening to say, 'Hey, we don't have anymore boots. To me, it's heartbreaking," Fillmore said.
Donations especially are needed in men's sizes 9 to 12 and women's sizes 6 to 10. In addition to boots and warm shoes, rain gear, First-Aid kits and shaving cream are also needed.
Drop-off locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the Vietnam Veterans of America, 3027 Walnut St., KCMO; the HUD building at 400 State Ave. in Kansas City, KS, and the Veterans Administration building in Leavenworth, Building 160.
A special event will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 8 at Memorial Hall, 600 N. 7th St., in Kansas City, KS, and resources will be provided.
An estimated 1,700 homeless veterans live in the area. Fillmore hopes the group receives many donations for veterans.
"We owe it to them. They made a contract with America to put themselves in harm's way to protect their country and now we need to protect them," he said.
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