Niles' Marcelle and Clifford Nelson lock arms in front of a trailer awarded to the VFW Post 4952 in Berrien Springs. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Hauling good times for veterans

Published 5:04pm Thursday, November 15, 2012

For the past 20 years, Army veteran and Niles resident Clifford Nelson has been delivering donations to the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek using a trailer either borrowed or rented using money out of his own pocket.

He won’t be renting a trailer anymore.

Last week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs awarded Nelson and the Berrien Springs VFW Post 4952 a 6-by-12-foot trailer.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Clifford said. “It’s going to make my life and work a lot easier at the hospital.”

Nelson and VFW Post 4952 in Berrien Springs organize and put on two parties a year for the inpatients at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek — one in February, for Valentine’s Day, and another in December, for Christmas.

The Nelsons secure the donations needed for the approximately $3,000 Christmas party, while putting in a little extra themselves. Marcelle sews small bags she and her husband fill with items such as notebooks, shampoo and phone cards. Clifford acts as the party’s emcee.

“We have music for them, and they can do karaoke and dance — whatever they want to do,” Clifford said.

On Thursday — a couple weeks before the party — the trailer was already three-quarters of the way full of boxes filled with donated items and party supplies. It was sitting in front of the Nelson’s detached garage, which was serving as a warehouse for boxes and boxes of donations and other items from VFW Post 4952.

The Nelsons placed on each side of the trailer a decal reading, “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you … Jesus Christ and American G.I. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.”

“It’s true,” Clifford said.

The Nelsons saw the decal while visiting a restaurant in Smithville, Miss., about a month ago. They purchased a few of the decals, had them enlarged and placed on the trailer.

Marcelle placed the words “Awesome God” above the decal.


“My wife said it was a miracle we got this trailer,” Clifford said, “and it was.”

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