Homeless veterans in Niles receive Christmas dinners

Published 6:38 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2007

By Staff
NILES – What does a red-nosed reindeer and a "blue" tiger have in common? Both bring joy and comfort to those in need.
Rudolph works for a big jolly fellow who dresses in red, while the "blue" Tiger works for the South County Democratic Club of southwestern Michigan.
On Friday, the South County Democratic Club's Blue Tigers delivered complete Christmas dinners, prepared by the Niles Martin's Supermarket, to 16 homeless veterans at the transitional living residence run by Residential Services in Niles.
The Blue Tigers are the civic action arm of the local South County Democratic Club. The Michigan Democratic Party adopted the nation-wide Blue Tiger program of civic engagement as a means to promote political credibility in a time when politics and politicians are generally looked down upon by many people.
South County Democratic Club (SCDC), 501 N. Redbud Trail, Buchanan, often called just South County is a chartered PAC under the Berrien County Democratic Party for the Michigan 78th House District. In 2006, it embraced the Blue Tiger concept of civic action and chose the homeless veterans of Residential Services of Southwestern Michigan as one of its projects.
Residential Services of Southwestern Michigan is located in Niles and helps 15 to 18 veterans with shelter and living necessities. Most of their clients are Vietnam-era men, although they are now receiving some veterans from the Gulf Wars. These veterans must have served at least two years in the armed forces and have an honorable discharge.
Resident Services emphasis is upon sobriety and training for the work place. The Veteran's Administration estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. One out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.
The South County Democratic Club has organized several food drives for Residential Services, one drive for personal clothing (socks and underwear), and placedbarrels at food stores, including Martin's Supermarket in Niles.
The need continues and if anyone would like to make a contribution, contact South County at 695-7232. South County Blue Tigers believe these veterans are a valuable resource to society. Just as the military specializes in making soldiers combat-ready, so SCDC Blue Tigers, by helping Residential Services, work to help veterans become "society ready."