For many veterans and their families, money can be tight. Managing daily living costs can mean buying groceries instead of sturdy shoes or new clothing. Veterans First Foundation, a volunteer-run free clothing store for vets, can help.
Last week, MVRC staff members visited the Columbus location to observe the organization's good work in action. In addition to men's and women's clothing for all occasions, vets can take home shoes, household items and even medical equipment if they need it. They are given a list of what kinds of items they can take when they arrive.
"I feel like they've got a gold mine here," says volunteer Johnny Poynter, referring to the medical equipment. Oftentimes, vets have to wait for medical devices when they go to the VA or a private service provider for help. While they wait, Veterans First Foundation can loan vets the equipment they need free of charge. The store has electric scooters, wheelchairs, medical beds, walkers and crutches in stock. Vets can keep everything except the electric scooters, which Poynter says the store usually loans out for three to six months.
The store helps vets on a daily basis, but it's a growing organization that also needs help. The cost of maintaining the facility and the medical equipment is expensive. According to Poynter, the volunteers have paid for some costs out of their own pockets. However, he has just applied for a grant from the Veterans Support Foundation and he is working on more.
"I'm committed to [the volunteers] because they were there for me when I was really down," says Poynter. He became a regular volunteer a few months ago, and now helps keep the office organized. For now, he has a few more weeks of waiting until he hears if they got the grant.
Veterans are limited to two shopping trips at the store per month, and they must show proof of service each time they come. If they need medical devices, they must also present a doctor's statement. Veterans First Foundation is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located at 1205 W. Broad Street, Columbus, OH. For more information visit their website at www.veteransfirstfoundation.com