DAV makes last donations of food to needy disabled vets

Published 12:11 am Thursday, November 25, 2010

It’s been a tradition here for years, begun by the Pearl River County Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 47, founded in March 1971.

The PRC DAV, using funds it has collected all year, buys as much food as possible and distributes the food to needy disabled PRC veterans.

As long as the DAV local chapter has been in existence, it has been helping disabled veterans. That was its purpose.

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“The food gift is meant to stretch over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to show disabled veterans here that Pearl River County really cares about the sacrifices they have made for the freedoms we enjoy,” said PRC DAV Commander Bill Leaumont, Sr.

This year nine veterans were selected, and each received a food gift valued at about $200, purchased from Claiborne Hill, which also gives the DAV a discount on the purchases to make the money stretch farther.

The food is distributed each Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday’s ceremony, held in the Claiborne Hill parking lot at the corner of Mississippi Highway 43 South and U.S. Highway 11 in North Picayune, was an especially poignant gathering.

It was the last time the charity event will be performed by the DAV here.

The local DAV chapter, said Leaumont who was on-hand on Tuesday to help with the distribution, is closing its doors.

Leaumont said the local DAV is zeroing out its budget on this year’s event.

He said that over the last few years membership has dwindled and that right now only three active members are keeping the organization alive.

He added that the few active members are getting older and cannot handle the activities that have to be accomplished to manage the organization and put on the drives to collect the funds.

“So, we will shut it down. I guess everyone is just getting older and dying out, and are too sick to help. We just have to say that we are suffering from declining active membership,” he said.

He said that disabled veterans should direct all inquiries about needs to the Pearl River County veterans services representative Cindy Smith, who has offices at the county Millard complex.

Smith was also on-hand Tuesday to help with the distribution. She, along with the DAV, selects the needy veterans who receive the Thanksgiving-Christmas food donations. “She knows the cases very well,” said Leaumont.

Disabled vets also can check with the DAV representative at the Biloxi Veterans Administration, said Leaumont.

“We have been honored to serve the Pearl River County disabled veterans since March 2, 1971. Our remaining members are urged to join the American Legion and VFW organizations,” said Leaumont.

Officers of the county DAV include Joe Landrum, vice commander, and Bill Dyess, treasurer-chaplain. Dyess also was on-hand Tuesday to help with distribution of the food.

Items included in the gift packages include general food items, fruit and produce, and meat.