By: Megan Roche
Local organizations and businesses came together, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, to bring Christmas joy to local veterans. Led by Charlie Uhrmann, bags were put together and dropped off at numerous veteran locations around the area.
The bags included custom eyeglass cleaning cloths, custom face masks with lanyards, lap blankets, custom lip repair balms, holiday face masks, books and movies, custom cell phone holders, custom hand sanitizers, playing cards, custom water bottles, an eco-friendly tote bag, and socks.
“All of our items were custom made, due to the fact that we couldn’t do a drive to collect from people because of the COVID-19 situation. We ordered all of our items from companies that would put inspiring verbiage on all of our items. We all need hope, especially this year, and we hope that these bags give our veterans hope,” Uhrmann said.
Bags were put together at the Mount Olive Senior Center on December 19. The all day packaging affair helped bring happiness to veterans from around the area. Kids and adults all chipped in to make the bags special.
“We had a lot of people who wanted to jump into this campaign. We had kids who were so grateful just for getting them out of the house. We had parents who were so grateful that their kids had the opportunity to do something positive for somebody else. Our donors were fulfilled, our recipients were fulfilled, and our goal was fulfilled,” Uhrmann shared.
Since delivering the bags on Christmas Eve, many of the recipients have reached out to Uhrmann.
“We’ve heard from many different places that the seniors were absolutely overjoyed. They really appreciated the gesture and just the fact that people that didn’t really know them gave from the heart. When you’re isolated and you get a bag from an organization that has handwritten cards and drawings from children and other veterans, the recipients knew that this just wasn’t something from one company, they knew it was a joint effort,” Uhrmann says.
Lots of activities are planned for 2021 at the All Veterans Memorial. Currently, the team is planning on celebrating each day during Armed Forces Week (week leading up to the third Saturday in May) and of course, Memorial Day. Volunteers are going to be needed and Uhrmann will gladly accept any help that AVM can get.
“Our goal has always been normalcy. We want to keep normalcy and opportunity for a lot of the people who have been shutdown through COVID-19. When people volunteer with the All Veterans Memorial, they see the community. The AVM was built by the community and without the community support, this memorial wouldn’t be here,” Uhrmann said.
Contributions to the bags were made possible by All Veterans Memorial, All Veterans Alliance, American Legion Post 91, American Legion Post 250, Daughters of the American Revolution, Education Association of Mount Olive, Home Depot, Meier Stone Company, Mount Olive High School JROTC, New Jersey Department of Veterans Services, and Walmart.
For more information on how to volunteer with All Veterans Memorial, Uhrmann can be contacted at email@example.com.