Serviceman’s widow begins ninth annual holiday clothing drive to aid veterans

Stacia McDonough and her nonprofit organization “Independence For Veterans” have kicked off their ninth annual “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm” new winter clothing drive to benefit the formerly homeless and disabled veterans who currently reside at the “Hope For Veterans” transitional housing facility on the VA campus in
Lyons, Somerset County, and Vet Haven North in Glen Gardner, Hunterdon County.

Items being collected are brand new hoodies, winter hats, socks, slippers, ear muffs, robes,
pajamas, undershirts (all men’s sizes: M to 3XL), thermal underwear, basketball shorts, sweaters, belts, wallets, blankets, toiletries (shampoo, bar soap, baby wipes, razors, Q-tips, deodorant, sunblock, lip balm, etc.), according to a press release.

McDonough said the residents of the facilities are mostly men, however, there are currently 12 former servicewomen (sizes M to 14) residing at the facilities. There are about 200 former servicemen and former servicewomen residing at the two facilities.

In addition, gift cards from Visa, Amazon, grocery stores, Walmart and Target are a much sought after item by the veterans, according to the press release.

The drive began on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and will run through Jan. 7.

McDonough said she was inspired to start the campaign in loving memory of her late
husband, John, a decorated sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who served “in country”
during the Vietnam War.

The annual collection is officially “Dedicated in Memory of John E. McDonough.”

During the war, McDonough was assigned to the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron. The 21st TASS engaged in combat in Vietnam’s hot zones including Saigon, Anloc and Nha Trang. The unit went on to earn five presidential citations, according to the press release.

In 2008, in recognition of his bravery and leadership, McDonough was posthumously inducted into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, according to the press release

“As Americans, we must keep our veterans in the forefront. For their service, bravery and
unimaginable sacrifices, these noble warriors should be revered and never forgotten.

“I am looking forward to a banner year, hoping I can brighten the holidays for our heroes. It is a tremendous privilege for me to be able to conduct this annual campaign and an unparalleled honor to spend quality time with our veterans,” McDonough said.

Drop-off collection boxes have been placed at two Monmouth County locations:

• Robbiani’s Clock & Doll Shoppe, 14 School Road West, Marlboro. Contact Michael or
Kathleen Robbiani, 732-462-3589;

• The Chelsea at Manalapan, 445 U.S. Route 9, Manalapan. Contact Laura Milo, 732-972-6200.

For more information, visit www.independenceforveterans.org

Any individuals, business operators or organizations that are interested in participating with “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm” may contact Stacia McDonough via email at staciamcdonough@hotmail.com or Jena Rae via email at jenakrae@gmail.com