American Legion makes holiday shopping easier for veterans

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Holiday shopping for some can be impossible, a perfect example are the veterans who are bound to the hospital at the Grand Island VA Medical Center. The American Legion is doing what they can to help.

The American Legion set up a gift shop at the VA Medical Center in Grand Island to give inpatients a chance to pick out gifts for their families for free. (KSNB)

The American Legion Auxiliary takes in donations all year to bring gifts for all people to the hospital so the veterans can pick out the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

“There's a stress involved when you're a patient and you have family that you would like to give presents to and you're not physically capable of being able to go out and shop for a gift. It saddens your heart,” Deptartment of Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary President Elizabeth Paes said.

The legion enjoys having these pop up shops for veterans to make the holidays a little easier for them. It has been a tradition for the legion since the 1920's.

“Because of the number of injured and destitute american veterans from WWI and the program has grown since then to include the veterans that are in our nursing homes, VA facilities, and our hospitals,” Department of Nebraska American Legion Gary Wooten said.

The gifts the vets pick out are then wrapped by the legion and brought to the patient's room. The gifts are at no cost to the veterans. Legion members said some vets get emotional seeing their families open something from them.

“To see a veterans actually have tears he is holding back because he is able to give his family member a gift is very, it's just very touching,” Paes said.

They also collected socks and clothes to be kept at the hospital after the holiday season because some of the veterans who come into the hospital doesn’t have anything they own.