Yorkers 'fill the truck' for vets

Christopher Dornblaser

On Saturday, a truck and two canopies stood outside of Bobcat Creamery in Manchester.

The truck was being filled with items such as toiletries, deodorant, toothpaste and more. By afternoon, the personal care items were to be sent to Mr. Sandy's Veterans Center to help veterans in need, as part of Veteran's of Foreign Wars Post 2943's "Fill the Truck" event.

Within the first two hours or so, about 25 people had donated supplies.

"It makes you feel good," said John Brenner, a Vietnam War veteran and chairman of the Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission who was there with his wife, Sandy Brenner.

Wesley Elfner, 3, of Mount Wolf, hands supplies to Deb Shaffer to box up as the Susquehanna Post #2493, Auxiliary and Jr. Unit, along with the National  Veterans of Foreign Wars & Auxiliary,   hold a "Fill the Truck" event at Bobcat Creamery for Mr. Sandy's Veterans Center, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. The center will celebrate its first anniversary Friday. John A. Pavoncello

Fill the truck: Sandy Brenner, who is a member of the VFW,  said they were taking the supplies and sorting them into small bags, which would then be given out to anyone who goes to the veteran's center.

They set up shop about 9 a.m., and she said with the help of just a few flyers and social media, people had heard — and responded to — the call.

"They started coming right away," she said.

Sandy Brenner said it is important for people to support the veterans because the U.S. would not be what it is today without them.

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Among those who donated was Stacey Sidle, of Manchester, the acting superintendent for Northeastern School District. She had donated a "little bit of everything."

"I think our family is just very appreciative of what our veterans have done for us," she said.

"We appreciate our veterans and the people in our community that continue to support them," Sidle added.

Bruce Hilt, a Vietnam War veteran from Springettsbury Township, dropped off goods for the truck.

"This is great," he said. "I always like to help my fellow veterans."

Veteran suicide:  The table under the canopy contained information on dealing with suicide among veterans, such as education about signs that might lead to suicide.

Sandy Brenner said that what is different about recent veterans compared to some in the past is that many of them have served multiple tours of duty, between Iraq and Afghanistan.

"That affects them in many ways," she said.

John Brenner said the latest statistics he has heard is that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Statistics bear that out: In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.

"Maybe that can help, who knows," he said of the information pamphlets they were handing out.

Sandy Brenner emphasized that any veteran in the area in need of assistance may reach out to them.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.