Philadelphia, PA - Food store Giant and the Wild Bill Guarnere Memorial Fund teamed up to help hundreds of veterans in need around the Philadelphia region. Almost 400 bags of non-perishable food and $10,000 worth of gift cards were made available at the new Giant located on S Columbus Boulevard. Leftover items will be donated to Broad Street Ministries.
Ex-servicemen and women are eligible for several benefits to help them return to civilian life easily. From health assistance to a home mortgage, there is a wide variety of support available to veterans. For example, Hero Loan is backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide home mortgages to vets who are looking to buy their first or next property. The endorsement allows private lenders to offer attractive conditions to former military staff including zero down payment, good interest rates, and no private mortgage insurance. Moreover, a perfect credit score is not mandatory and there are no income threshold requirements making home loans accessible to deserving veterans.
Unfortunately, not all former soldiers have stable or reliable incomes and there are vets that need a helping hand. To illustrate, food insecurity is an issue that veterans in Philly face. In November 2021, a business owner from Connecticut, Brian Gates, ran 247 miles to bring food to vets in the Philadelphia area. The 60-hour trip was meant to bring attention to the lack of access to sufficient, affordable, and nutritious food. His company Bookwell Travel, donated 7,000 bags filled with groceries to the VA Medical Center.
Continuing and Preserving the Legacy of Veterans
This year, food donations to vets continue in cooperation with the retail store Giant and the memorial fund. Jack Crussard, who served in the Vietnam war, appreciates the gesture and is glad that former military personnel is being recognized. According to Debi Rafferty, the granddaughter of the fund’s founder, the effort is part of the legacy of her grandfather, William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere. A celebrated veteran who lost his leg during World War II, Guarnere always ‘donated to veterans’ funds and helped children’s causes.
He was part of the Band of Brothers, an American war drama miniseries that was first released in 2001. The series depicts the history of the ‘Easy Company’ from the time its members were training in the US to its participation in Europe and until the war ended. Bill passed away in 2014. After his death, his son, Gene Guarnere, and family members started the memorial fund to support veterans. It was also used to put up a bronze statue of Bill that now stands at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial. In addition, a memorial site dedicated to Guarnere and another South Philadelphia soldier, Edward ‘Babe’ Heffron is located outside Herron Park.
Veterans deserve to be recognized for their service to the country. Without their sacrifices, we would not have the rights and freedoms we have today. Providing food is just one way of thanking and honoring them.