Barbecued burgers, brats and hot dogs may be a modest meal, but to veterans at the Truman Memorial VA Hospital Monday’s cookout sponsored by the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter was a grand gesture.
“This is great,” one veteran said after receiving his plate at the hospital’s Community Living Center outdoor pavilion.
Veterans repeated the sentiment numerous times as volunteers from Sam’s Club did the barbecuing and serving. Volunteers along with hospital and Red Cross staff members also mingled with veterans who came out to enjoy the atmosphere.
Some veterans stayed outside in the relatively mild July afternoon to eat at tables on the pavilion, which was shaded by the building. Others took plates stacked with meat and chips back to their rooms.
While the barbecue was designed to let veterans know how much they are valued, they were quick to acknowledge the favor.
“Thank you,” veteran Carl Dyer said. “We really appreciate this.”
Volunteers and veterans exchanged ‘Thank yous’ early and often during the event.
“Many times veterans’ activities are focused around November during Veterans Day celebrations and during the holidays in December,” said Nancy Sell, the chapter’s major gifts officer who helped coordinate the event. “There aren’t a lot of activities during the summer for veterans who are in the VA hospital.
“We wanted to do something to bridge that gap. We want veterans to know we are thinking about them all year.”
The afternoon concluded with veterans receiving a Red Cross T-shirt and a Red Cross comfort kit, which contains personal hygiene items.