Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Vets share Christmas spirit

LAKEPORT – Local veterans took on a special duty this Christmas, visiting area convalescent hospitals in an effort to spread holiday cheer.


The group – composed of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 accompanied by members of American Legion Post No. 194, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2015 and United Veterans Council Military Honors Team - made the rounds of care facilities in Lakeport on Friday and Saturday. In all they visited three hospitals – Evergreen, Edelweiss and Lakeport Skilled Nursing.

Veterans taking part included Peg and Don McCown, Kirk MacDonald, Griffie Ratterree, Dean Gotham, Frank Parker (accompanied by wife, Suzi), George Dorner and Ken Melville. Also assisting was Ginny Craven, a retired local law enforcement officer. On Friday vets Larry Mick and Craig Barnett took part in the visits, but were unable to attend the following day, said MacDonald.

The vets initially brought 36 blankets for hospitalized vets and many pairs of socks to share with all of the residents – to make sure everyone received something at Christmas.

Frank Parker credited Kirk MacDonald with quickly organizing the effort. “The whole thing was put together in 13 days,” Parker said.

Hospital staffs also got involved in the effort by counting up the number of elderly vets in the facilities.

As they made the rounds, the vets shook hands with fellow veterans in the facility, thanking them for their service, and wishing a Merry Christmas to all of the residents.

They soon discovered they were short of both blankets and socks – and so members made a last-minute dash to stock up.

Suzi Parker noted that at Christmas time the focus is often on the children, and that seniors sometimes are forgotten. She said she enjoyed being part of the effort.

Staffers told the vets that their efforts and the gifts mattered a lot to those patients who received them.

VVA President Dean Gotham said their chapter voted this year to make the visits. Next year, he said, they plan to raise funds to expand the effort.

“We're going to pick it up a notch next year,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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