Bellevue University, Siena Francis House kick off annual backpack drive to help homeless veterans

This drive is a way to honor veterans at a time of year they need help the most.
Bellevue University and Siena Francis House are kicking off their annual backpack drive to help homeless veterans in our area.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - Bins at Bellevue University’s Military Services Center won’t be empty in a couple of weeks. They’re going to be filled up with toiletry, bedding, and other donations that will be packed up for homeless veterans that are served by the Siena Francis House.

“The need just continues to rise,” Heather Carroll, Manager of Bellevue University’s Military Veteran Services said.

About 20% of homeless individuals in the United States are veterans. Carroll said there are a lot of reasons why.

“Maybe there’s a drug addiction that happened as a result of an injury in the military and then they became addicted to the medications and then they ended up homeless because they couldn’t get away from their addictions,” Carroll said.

She said this drive is a way to honor veterans at a time of year they need help the most.

“The heart behind this is to get these essential items to our veterans before the real cold weather hits so they have those winter gloves, hats, and leggings for the females,” Carroll said.

200 of these bags will be filled at the Bellevue Military Veteran Services Center, which is double the number of bags filled last year. It’s also about the same number of veterans who seek shelter at Siena Francis each year.

Chris Knauf, the Chief Development Officer of the Siena Francis House believes giving back is crucial.

“If you’re a veteran who’s experiencing homelessness and you’re facing food insecurity you don’t have shelter, you don’t have clothing you can come to Siena Francis House and receive a bag of these items,” Knauf said.

Carroll also says this drive wouldn’t be possible without the help of the community.