County Veterans Affairs Office, related agencies coordinate Donation Drive, Awareness March

The Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Veterans Coalition of Pennsylvania (VCOP), and the Berks County Office of Veterans Affairs (BCVA) have launched a donation campaign called the “March to End Veterans Hunger and Homelessness” to help Berks County homeless Veterans and Veterans with food insecurity. These groups will collect nonperishable and canned food and donations of new underwear and socks over the next three weeks. The donation campaign culminates in a ruck march for awareness on Saturday, June 8.

Donations to the campaign can be dropped off at the Etchberger Veterans Service Center VA at 726 Cherry Street, Reading, or at 2601 River Road, Reading, in care of Staff Sgt. Brandon Jacoby. Canned proteins, pasta sauces, and 3-in-1 bodywash are high-priority needs. Donations for the campaign will be accepted through June 8, but general donations can be offered anytime.

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The March to End Veteran Homelessness will step off, rain or shine, at 8 am on Saturday, June 8, from the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower at 621 Skyline Drive. Participants are encouraged to bring a backpack or rucksack. March organizers will fill the backpacks with donated goods and marchers will haul the donations four miles down Mount Penn to City Park where an awareness encampment and Veterans standdown will be waiting. Registration is not necessary to participate in the march, but businesses and organizations willing to collect goods are encouraged to reach out for awareness and updates.

Berks County VA Director, Jay Ostrich, explained that the homeless rates for Veterans in Berks County have been holding steady, but the rise in Veterans seeking supplemental help with food and temporary financial assistance has been soaring.

“Every day in Berks County, far too many of our heroes are teetering on the edge of hunger and homelessness,” said Ostrich. “Any Veteran homeless or hungry in Berks is one Veteran too many, and this effort and ruck march will help close the gaps and honor our sacred duty to care for those who have borne the battle.”

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