MANVILLE, NJ - Independence for Veterans, Inc. is the recipient of a $500 donation from the Valairco Cares program. Kevin McHugh, Owner of Valairco Heating and Cooling, and company's founder Richard Valenti recently presented a check to Stacia McDonough and volunteers from Independence for Veterans at Valairco's office in Manville.
Valairco Heating and Cooling started the Valairco Cares program to celebrate their 50 years in business. Because of their joy in learning about these fantastic charities and the people behind the service, McHugh and Valenti continue to give back each quarter. "Telling the stories of so many great organizations, it brings awareness to what you do," said Valenti. Every quarter Valairco donates $500 to a nonprofit or charity based on the desire of their customers, friends and interested parties.
McDonough, a Bedminster resident, is the widow of decorated U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran Sgt. John E. McDonough. She launched Independence for Veterans in 2020 after volunteering with New Jersey's homeless veterans for the past 14 years in honor of her late husband. She started a clothing and necessities drive named "They Kept Us Safe, Let's Keep Them Warm."
The organization collects new clothing, toiletries and necessities for homeless veterans residing at transitional housing facilities in Lyons and Glen Gardner. It is a unique drive as all items collected are hand-delivered to the veterans, and their residences.
"There are homeless veterans 10 minutes from my house," said McDonough. "I found that in this relatively affluent area there are veterans that don't even have shoes. Can you imagine? This is right in Basking Ridge. -- We get them all brand-new clothes. We feel that they deserve to have the respect. We appreciate what they've done for our country." McDonough believes that when the veteran receives something brand new, it makes them feel good and lifts their spirit.
In addition to continuing their year-round clothing drive, Independence for Veterans also has a gofundme set up to raise funds to construct tiny houses for veterans who have fallen on hard times. The homes will be gifted to each veteran ["no strings attached"], leaving them responsible for their utility bills and daily living expenses.
“We want to give them their own home and their dignity back. If anyone deserves it, they deserve it,” said McDonough.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there are more than 40,000 homeless veterans in America.
To learn more about Independence for Veterans Inc. and to donate, visit independenceforveterans.org.
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