Volunteers help homeless veterans

Cheney women receive awards for their work

Three Cheney women have been collecting clothing, household items and furniture to donate to veterans in the Spokane area.

Helen Boots, Barbara Curtis and Carol Betz each received the Martha Washington Award from the Washington State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Spokane Chapter No. 1.

“I was totally shocked, I had no idea,” Curtis said about her award.

“It was a thrill,” Boots added.

The three members of the Daughters of the American Revolution scour yard sales and thrift stores to find items to donate. They also get items from personal donations. In 2008, the three raised $22,855.55 worth of clothing, furniture, dishes and other household items. So far this year, they’ve raised $14,905.19.

“They worked their butts off,” said Neil Hyde of the Sons of the American Revolution. Hyde helps the women by dropping off donations he gets from around Spokane through the Veterans Helping Veterans program. Before a veteran dies, he or she can elect to donate clothing and other items to other veterans. Hyde stops by retirement homes for veterans and the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center to collect the items, and also encourages SAR members to bring in useful items.

The three women then sort through the donations, fix anything that needs fixing, take inventory of what they have and place a value on each item. Jeans are five dollars; so is a pair of shoes.

The items are then picked up by a representative of Veterans Affairs.

The award was presented to the three women June 12 at a meeting of SAR. They received a certificate and a medal.

Donations the women collect often go to the Pioneer Victory House in Spokane, which provides furnished, single-room apartments and case-management services to homeless veterans. The facility has space for 35 veterans.

“A lot of our service goes there,” Boots said. The women received a tour of the house when it opened last year and said they enjoy visiting with the residents and doing what they can for them.

“When I walked in there it just felt right,” Curtis said.

“We do it because we enjoy helping the veterans,” Curtis said. She said when she visits the Victory House, she brings along homemade cookies, cakes, bread and other baked goods. One time, a resident handed her his grandmother’s cookie recipe and asked if she could make them for him.

“It touched me that after all he’s been through, he’s kept her recipe,” Curtis said.

Boots said that helping veterans is important to her, since she used to be a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II.

“One half-step above my husband,” Boots said about her rank.

She said she had wanted to get away from the farm she grew up on, since she hated horses, so she joined the U.S. Army. One of her duties during the war was helping to make training videos in Hollywood.

Hyde, of the SAR, credits Betz with starting the program.

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