BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Bedminster resident Stacia McDonough's growing annual "They Kept Us Safe, Let's Keep Them Warm" drive ,to collect new clothing for the formerly homeless veterans housed at Community Hope/Hope for Veterans housing in Lyons, is becoming a year-round effort.

A large amount of donations of clothing and toiletries was presented earlier this spring, when Zimmer Biomet of Parsippany coordinated the company's second annual drive to collect $18,000 worth of new items for the veterans in conjunction with McDonough's patriotic cause.

"We're striving to keep drives going year-round, not just for Christmas," said McDonough,  who has for years been supportive of the veterans who live and learn out to build new lives at the Lyons Campus of the Veterans Administration New Jersey Healthcare System off Valley Road in Bernards Township.

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Drive for summer clothing and other necessities

McDonough said that she and her staff of "fabulous" volunteers are reaching out to New Jersey businesses to see if any are interested - as Zimmer Biomet was - in hosting a new summer clothing, toiletry, bedding, kitchenware collection for the formerly homeless veterans housed at the two Hope For Veterans facilities in Lyons. 

 
"All items collected will be hand-delivered to a hero in need," McDonough said.

Zimmer Biomet's IT Director, Mr. Craig Lockwood, said he read a newspaper article last year regarding McDonough's annual drive, and was inspired to help. He responded by starting a collection at his workplace.


Together, the 200-plus employees collected $18,000 worth of brand new items. Subsequently, all of these items were sorted, and delivered to ex-servicemen and women residing at Community Hope's two housing units located on the VA's Lyons campus, McDonough said. There are approximately 167 veterans living at the facility, she said.

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"The least we could do is donate much-needed new clothing, and toiletries that will help get our veterans back on their feet. They risked their lives for our freedoms, and we wanted to make sure that we were donating to an organization that delivered the donations directly to our vets,"  said Craig Lockwood, IT Director at Zimmer Biomet.

"Once I discovered that Stacia McDonough and her organization did just that - it was a 'no brainier' for us here at Zimmer Biomet," he said.

"I am grateful to the kind, and thoughtful people at Zimmer Biomet - their efforts were remarkable," McDonough said. 

She added, "It is beyond an honor, and a tremendous privilege to be of any assistance, in any way, to our heroes. Their service, and their unimaginable sacrifices must never be forgotten."

McDonough also said the collection would not be possible without volunteers who work with her, including says Jena Rae, Kelly Mazzochi, Harriette Doll, Nancy Stober-McCarthy and Kathleen and Mike Robbiani.

"In the spirit of giving, Biomet’s competitive team format encouraged friendly, spirited  competition, generating many more donations than we ever imagined," said volunteer Harriette Doll.

Zimmer Biomet, medical device manufacturers, also provided the volunteers with a "fascinating tour of their facility, accompanied by an in-depth overview of what Biomet does, [which] gave us a greater understanding and appreciation for the mindset and compassion of its employees," she said.

A collective meeting with all of the competing Biomet teams followed, with McDonough  introducing the vets, who then shared their own personal stories. "Biomet’s very generous collective donations were then presented, prompting our sincerest thanks and appreciation for their commitment to helping our vets," Doll said.

Community Hope, Inc., which administers the housing and transitional programs, is based in Parsippany.

Stacia McDonough is the widow of John E. McDonough, a decorated Vietnam veteran who served "In country." Helping veterans in need is her passion, she said. She is the founder of the annual, "They Kept Us Safe, Let's Keep Them Warm: Sergeant John McDonough Christmas Drive," and is a member of the prestigious Hope For Veterans Leadership Committee.

For further information on how to get your community or workplace involved with a veterans drive, contact Stacia McDonough at: staciamcdonough@hotmail.com.