Volunteers across Illinois are participating in the Serving Those Who Served Program (STWS), with a week’s worth of events from November 5 – 11. Their goal is to make an impact in the lives of veterans and their families and to show gratitude for their service to this country.
According to a 2016 Veteran Affairs census, Illinois is home to approximately 628,254 veterans.
"We want our Illinois heroes to know that their service means more to us than a one-day program or parade,” said IDVA Director Erica Jeffries. “We are counting on our fellow Illinoisans to come out, volunteer, and give back to those who have protected our freedoms here at home.”
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs spearheads the STWS program. The Department is partnering with seven other organizations to help increase the success of the program - Chicago Cares, The Mission Continues, Serve Illinois Commission, Corporation for National & Community Service, Illinois Joining Forces, Student Veterans of America, and the City of Chicago. Each of these partners has assisted with recruiting volunteers, providing project funding, or hosting community service projects.
This is the second year for the STWS program. Approximately 570 volunteers came out to support the program last year, providing approximately 2,280 hours of much needed and welcomed community service for Illinois Heroes. According to Points of Light, the total number of volunteer hours had an economic impact of $53,716.80 in 2016.
As part of the STWS program, the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) AmeriCorps Members will be volunteering at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Food Pantry in Hines, Illinois on Thursday, November 9. The members will be assisting over 100 veterans who utilize the pantry. In addition to this day of service, the IPHA AmeriCorps Members have been conducting a food drive for canned fruits and vegetables to donate to the food pantry.