For the past 10 years, Bedminster, NJ resident Stacia McDonough, the widow of a decorated U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran, Sergeant John E. McDonough, has led a food drive called “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm” winter clothing drive.

This drive is dedicated to military veterans as well as disabled veterans who live at the Hope for Veterans Traditional Housing Facility in Lyons, NJ, as well as the Veterans Haven North in Glen Gardner. The items accepted for donation range from hoodies, scarves, socks, slippers, earmuffs, blankets, toiletries and more. All men's sizes are acceptable from M-3XL, as there are a variety of people living in the facility. There are also a few women there if you have any women-sized clothing that you want to donate.

It’s not that I want to discourage you from ever donating clothing to one of those big bins on the side of the road, but do you really know what happens to them? Do the charities sell them and use part of the proceeds to pay administrative costs?

Not so with this non-profit, where each donated item is personally delivered to residents. Over the past 10 years, many relationships have been formed between volunteers and residents, which is what McDonough hoped for when she initially started the non-profit.

Her husband John served in the Vietnam War and was a highly decorated member of the Air Force. He was also inducted into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel back in 2008 for his bravery and leadership.

If you cannot donate clothes, gift cards from Visa, Amazon, grocery stores, Walmart or Target are also something that could benefit these Veterans. There are several areas where you can drop off donations: including The Chelsea at Manalapan and Robbiani’s Clock & Doll Shoppe in Marlboro.

If you are looking to support a great cause this winter and form a relationship with a veteran, consider donating to this cause. If you are more interested in the drive or want to partner with McDonough feel free to email info@independenceforveterans.org.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinion

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