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Here’s how LCO’s coat drive is already helping veterans
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From left, Johnny Varner, American Legion Post 7 veteran services officer, Art Gallegos Jr., president of LCO and the Rev. Lamar Johnson, director of Veterans and Community Outreach Organization, meet on Dec. 19 to distribute coats to veterans in need. Photo courtesy LCO

In early December, Latinos Conservative Organization in Gainesville called upon the community to donate coats for local veterans in need, and residents delivered. 

Art Gallegos Jr., president of LCO, said his group gathered around 200 coats, jackets, sweaters, scarves and winter hats. He said residents of Deaton Creek in Hoschton and Chateau Elan in Braselton contributed a large portion of the amount.

“I’m just very happy, and I’m grateful that the community really stepped up and participated,” Gallegos said. “I think that if there’s anybody that deserves our help and attention, and deserves to be well, it’s our veterans.”

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To make sure the items were delivered directly to veterans in need, Gallegos teamed up with the American Legion Post 7 in Gainesville, which has a 400-person membership base. Gallegos said he dropped off the jackets and other winter-wear to the post on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Johnny Varner, veteran service officer for American Legion Post 7, is now dispersing the items with Wendy Paradis and other members of the group, among local veterans who need extra support this holiday season. 

Varner said he keeps in contact with Vietnam War veterans who rarely ask for help. In some scenarios, he said they may be struggling to pay for their prescriptions, housing and food.

“There’s some anxiety with being a Vietnam War veteran,” he said. “They isolate themselves quite a bit, and a lot of them just choose to do without (necessities). They’re so proud, they wouldn’t tell you if they needed anything.”

Veterans who could use a new coat are encouraged to call Varner at 470-577-3617 to either pick up the item or have it delivered. 

LCO is still taking new or gently used adult-sized coats until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23. People can drop off the items at Farmers Insurance, located at 747 Queen City Parkway, Suite B in Gainesville. The clothing collected this week will be donated to Set Free Ministry, whose team will distribute them to veterans in need.
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Thanks to donations from Hall County residents, LCO was able to collect over 200 coats, scarves and hats for local veterans in need. Photo courtesy LCO
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