HAZARD — The Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center held its 9th annual Christmas Party for the 111 veterans that reside in the facility. The event was a way for the staff at the veterans center, along with Kentucky county clerks and members of local governments to show their appreciation and support for the veterans. They wanted to let the veterans know that they are never forgotten, at Christmas and any other day.
The Gospel Bluegrass Band Good Ground provided entertainment for the veterans. The First Creek Baptist Youth Choir, along with their Pastor, sung Christmas Carols for the veterans in attendance. Food and drinks were also provided to the veterans.
Santa Claus was also in attendance to help hand out Christmas gifts to the veterans.
“Because the veterans have been neglected, our young people don’t have a cue what they are doing here. If it wasn’t for the old veterans, we wouldn’t be standing here today. We can’t say ‘Thank you’ enough,” said Letcher County Clerk Winston Meade after being asked why it was important for events like this for the veterans.
Though Meade himself isn’t a veteran, he told The Herald that this was his small gesture of saying “Thank you” to the veterans.
The Christmas Party was also dedicated to the memory of Arnold Lee Watson. Watson was the key individual who began making the birdhouses out of recycled license plates in 2008. He made over a 1,000 birdhouses to raise money for the veterans. Sadly, Watson died on June 20, 2014.
“Several years ago, some of us got together and we wanted to see what we might could do something for the veterans. The Letcher County clerk and the Perry County clerk invited us here and we came up to visit, we decided that we wanted to do something for the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center, along with other veterans centers in the state. We have tried to give them what they needed, but also some of the individual veterans wants,” Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson told The Herald.
Before the presents were handed out to the veterans, several of the county clerks and members of the local government spoke to the room full of veterans. They thanked them, the staff at EKVC and those who helped make the Christmas Party happen.
“And to the veterans here tonight, I know words are not enough but I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and say, ‘Thank you for your service to this county’,” said Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander.
Meade told the crowd that Hope For Veterans have shipped 1,600 birdhouses in this last month.
“We love our veterans. We can never do enough for them,” said Perry County Clerk Haven King.
Those wishing to donate to Hope For Veterans can stop in at the clerk’s office and pick up a birdhouse for $20. Individuals can also donate to Hope For Veterans without buying a birdhouse.