Locals make Christmas a bit brighter for vets

Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 23:31:32-05

As we spend time with family this holiday season, it's easy to forget that some people aren't as lucky.

Many veterans receiving care at Milwaukee's VA Medical Center are often alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"I think that they're forgotten all the time," says Rose Phillips of West Allis. "They shouldn't go hungry. They shouldn't be homeless, or alone. People take them for granted. They're the reason we have the freedoms we do."

Phillips is participating in a special community effort in West Allis, to help make sure veterans are remembered.

Every year, a small table-top Christmas tree inspires big hearts at West Allis City Hall.

The tree is decorated with stars. Each star has the name of a veteran at the VA Medical Center, and something they'd love to get for Christmas.

Strangers can come in and pick a star, then get that gift for the veteran.

"It makes the holiday special for them," says Sara Leclaire, a therapist at the VA hospital's nursing home. "They get an unexpected present at Christmas. They feel so blessed to know that somebody out there cares for them, and that they haven't been forgotten."

You can still participate. Unwrapped gifts and cash donations will be collected at West Allis City Hall through December 16th.

The city of Milwaukee is also trying to help veterans this holiday season, by collecting toiletries and basic household items for homeless vets and those receiving care at the VA Medical Center.

Donation bins will be set up inside city hall, the court house, and other facilities across Milwaukee County from November 23rd through December 18th.