This community will do anything to support its veterans.

When the word got out that there were veterans in need in the area, the St. Maries Community jumped at the opportunity to raise funds and donate food.

The efforts were originally spearheaded by Janel Holmes of and her sister Sara Sexton, the Benewah County Treasurer, who set up donation bins at the insurance agency office.

They originally started the drive after American Legion Post 25 outreach, Hank Thornton, told Holmes about some veterans he had visited that had close to nothing. He said there were about eight veterans living in the area with barely any food and lacking warm clothes for winter.

They were soon joined by the St. Maries High School ASB to gather non-perishable foods and other items that would help veterans get through the winter. The high school students have been challenging each class to donate as much as possible for a prize in return.

Holmes said the campaign has been so successful that she has now made the Farm Bureau Insurance office a year-round drop point for veterans support.

“We just had a great response from the community,” Holmes said. “It has made a world of difference for our community’s veterans and we just want to continue that cause.”

“It makes me feel amazing to live in this community,” she added. “Since I’ve lived here the St. Maries community always comes out to support its local organizations.”

The high school students will end its food drive this week with additional celebrations regarding our nation’s veterans. This week the students are doing dress up days through Thursday. At Saturday’s girls basketball game there will be a celebration for veterans with all attendees encouraged to wear red white and blue.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDAC) has also joined in on helping the veterans that were in need in the community.

Thornton said when he talked to Gail Ressor from the SDAC about the need she said ‘I had no idea there were veterans that were in need of help. That’s unacceptable in St. Maries.’

“She offered to make meals for those eight veterans every Thursday from here on out,” Thorton said.

“We saw the plea in the paper and I called Hank, he said ‘yeah they could use it,’” Ressor added. “I thought maybe they need some soup. Its nice to have something brought in that’s done and they just have to eat it.”

Thornton said the SDAC will also prepare Thanksgiving meals for the veterans this month.

“I never thought this effort would be this strong,” Thornton said. “We’ve had people coming out of the woodwork to help out. The other day I got a call from a woman I didn’t know who was at Costco and asked what she could do to help and brought us 40 stocking caps, 20 pairs of socks and 15 pairs of gloves.”

Thornton said he and the rest of the veterans in the area are grateful for their community.

“This effort renews my faith in human kind,” Thornton said. “I moved here four years ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

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