Commander Bill Gray said the $9,000 check from the Military Appreciation Day benefit equals roughly two years of the chapter’s budget.
The money has been earmarked to build ramps for veterans in need.
One of the DAV members is a licensed contractor. He designs the ramps and oversees the work of his fellow DAV members. The projects cost anywhere from $350 to $1,400.
“You know how it is with a soldier. They are independent, and they think they can take it all and do it all,” Gray said. “They really can’t. Sometimes they need a helping hand. Now they are learning the DAV is here and we can help.”
Gray said the chapter has received wood from Lowe’s, The Home Depot and Cleveland Plywood. The donation ensures the DAV will be able to purchase the wood without “begging or pleading.” Ramps have become more in demand due to the aging veteran population.
The proceeds from the second annual Military Appreciation Day benefit joins the DAV’s other fundraisers as the largest yet.
Brew said he thought year two of the benefit was a success.
“It never ceases to amaze me the support of the community — both with businesses being a part of the event and the community turning out for the event,” he said. “Being able to honor a local organization such as the DAV and presenting them with a check is rewarding at the end.”
Businesses who readily jumped on board as sponsors and partners in the event included headliner Bank of Cleveland, Zaxby’s, Jenkin’s Deli, Dick’s Graphics and Printing and the Cleveland Daily Banner.
Senior Vice President Christy Griffith mentioned in an earlier interview the bank’s dedication to supporting veterans.
“One of the reasons for our sponsorship is our founder and chairman Bobby Taylor, who passed away several years ago, was a veteran, as well as, many of our customers, our clients and our friends,” she said.
Griffith also explained the support is personal to her.
“My father is a Vietnam veteran. It touches close to home for me,” she said. “I think any time we can reach out and appreciate our active duty and veterans, it is a great idea.”
Zaxby’s district manager Jonathan Desilets agreed supporting veterans is personal to him, too. He said his father was in the Marines for 27 years.
“I lived in nine different states, moving around from base to base,” Desilets said. “I’ve been involved in it my entire life. My grandpa was a colonel in the Air Force and he is a disabled veteran.”
The local eatery donated $1,500 worth of food for the Military Appreciation Day benefit. An additional $500 was raised through percentage nights at the two local Zaxby’s.
“The way I see it, we like to invest in our employees and the community,” Desilets said. “The more we invest in the community, the more the community gives back to us as well.”
Joe Callahan, owner of Dick’s Graphics, supported the cause through with free prints of posters, signs and the check presented Wednesday morning. The local business owner returned for its second year to support the benefit and is ready for next year’s Military Appreciation Day.
“I actually have a son-in-law serving in the Army,” Callahan said. “It is kind of dear to our heart, and my dad served in the Army, so we have the connection there. When [Brew] said what he was doing, we thought it was a fantastic job.”
Similar sentiments were shared by Jenkin’s owners Don and Kay Cowan. The local restaurant once again sold the benefit’s T-shirts, which were often seen on one of the staff members.
“We strongly believe in the military,” Don said.
“Absolutely,” added Kay. “They’ve certainly done an awesome job, and it just breaks my heart what is going on now with the Veterans Affairs office.”
Don labeled both he and Kay as big supporters of the military. He said both parties deserve all the recognition possible.
“Yes,” Kay agreed. “Yes, they do.”
Brew said he is satisfied with the DAV as the recipient of this year’s benefit money.
“The one selling point to me was 100 percent of what is raised goes directly back into the Cleveland community,” he said. “That is representative of our goals and what we are trying to accomplish.”
To learn more about the local Disabled American Veterans chapter go to davofclevelandtn.com or call Commander Bill Gray at 423-310-0377.
The chapter requested families keep them up to date on the health and deaths of its less involved members.