The Whale raises clothes, money for vets
In anticipation for the coming winter months and the need for warm clothes, the student-run radio station, WCKS The Whale, is sponsoring a clothing and donation drive to raise funds and materials for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
Len O’Kelly, faculty adviser for The Whale, used to work with a radio station in Grand Rapids where he would do broadcasts from the GRHV. Twice a year, O’Kelly hosted a collection drive for the home, and individuals involved with The Whale thought it could be a great cause to continue at Grand Valley State University.
“Our number one goal is to raise awareness of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans,” O’Kelly said. “People can’t help out a place if they don’t know that it exists.”
The event was promoted through radio broadcasts by The Whale, and a number of other offices on campus participated, as well.
“So even if a dime isn’t raised or a single piece of clothing isn’t donated, if we can get people to know about the needs of some of our veterans, I feel that we would have done a good job,” he said. “Of course, I want us to raise as much money as we can and get a good amount of clothes for the GRHV and help out as many men and women as possible.”
The Whale set up bins next to the 20/20 desk in the Kirkhof Center for donations of simple clothing items such as socks and shirts. Though the event was sponsored mainly by The Whale, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Student Academic Success Center housed donation jars, and the Office of Student Life provided support.
Another goal of the fundraiser was to put the stereotypes of the GRHV as an “old folks’ home” to rest, and show there are veterans of all ages who benefit from the center who need the support of fundraisers such as this.
“The youngest resident I recall meeting was 22 – a veteran of the war in Afghanistan,” O’Kelly said. “That really hit home for me. Some of these residents no longer have family in the area, so no one visits with a fresh set of clothes, or even socks and underwear. The GRHV does not turn away veterans, and many of the families have a hard time meeting their other bills related to care.”
Similar to other on-campus fundraisers, the clothing and donation drive hopes to motivate and inspire other groups and organizations to promote similar events, and attempts to build a stronger connection between GVSU and the surrounding community.
“We are mainly trying to raise funds for veterans who need our help,” said Jamel Watson, station manager at The Whale. “A lot of these young men and women come home from fighting overseas, and some of them have terrible injuries from war. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t always taken care of by their families because they aren’t seen as a relative anymore, but as burdens. So a place like the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is not only their home, but their family.”
The idea of serving those who have served for their fellow citizens is part of the motivation behind the event. The donation drive gives students and others in the GVSU community, an opportunity to help out a group in need.
“I don’t want to say ‘We have it so easy,’ but in many ways we really have it easy,” O’Kelly said. “A good number of us in the GVSU family will never experience what these men and women went through. For the older veterans it meant being drafted, called away from family and school to serve their country. For the younger ones, it was a decision to put their country first.”
The drive will continue until Veterans Day, Nov. 11. All proceeds raised will go to the GRHV. Clothing can be dropped off at the box near the 20/20 Desk in Kirkhof, and monetary donations will be accepted at the OMA, 1240 Kirkhof, or the SASC, 200 Student Services.
For more information, email Jamel Watson at email@example.com.