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Veterans Day: Backpack drive for homeless Omaha veterans exceeds expectations

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 7:26 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For the 9th year in a row, Bellevue University partnered with the Siena Francis House to host a backpack drive to celebrate Veterans Day.

“This is an opportunity for us to recognize the military service of men and women who have served and for whatever reasons have found themselves in a situation where they’re homeless and receiving services here at Siena Francis House,” says JR Richardson with Bellevue University’s Veterans Service Center.

The drive calls on the community to fill 100 backpacks with supplies and new parkas to help homeless veterans get through the first part of the winter season.

And this year, the community exceeded the goal, Richardson says.

“This year we not only were able to give a surplus of materials for the Siena Francis House for all of our individuals in need, but also we were able to give a $1,500 check from the donations made throughout the community on behalf of this particular effort and those dollars we didn’t need that were in excess of us filling up the backpacks.”

In total 103 backpacks were filled and passed out to veterans Thursday evening.

One of those backpacks went to David Porter, who served with the U.S. Marines from 1979 to 1985. Having the community support is encouraging, he says.

“Being the cold weather now, I personally don’t like sleeping on the ground and I look out the window and I see people sleeping on the ground and it breaks my heart. I know there’s a God that cares because these people, he’s working through these people that are helping us,” Porter says.

After a ceremony with remarks from the staff at the Siena Francis House, Bellevue University, and Congressman Don Bacon, veterans were treated to a steak dinner and live music as the community showered them with appreciation.

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