MARLBORO – Two businesses in Marlboro are accepting donations of clothing that will help keep veterans of the armed forces warm during the winter.
Stacia McDonough, who is a native of Freehold, created the “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm” clothing drive in honor of her late husband, John, who was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and a veteran of the Vietnam War era.
McDonough’s campaign to assist veterans is in its fourth year of operation.
The businesses that are accepting donations on behalf of McDonough are Robbiani’s Clock and Doll Shop, 14 School Road West, Marlboro, and Salon Seraphim, 184 Route 9 north, Marlboro (for GPS purposes use 55 Willow Lane, Englishtown).
Michael and Kathleen Robbiani, who have been friends McDonough for 15 years, own Robbiani’s Clock and Doll Shop.
The Robbianis have been involved with the effort for four years. Donations of gently worn clothes may be dropped off at the shop throughout the year.
“This is a great opportunity to help our veterans,” Michael Robbiani said. “They have been able to feel better about themselves and get jobs, and some of them have been getting back to their families.”
Salon Seraphim is co-owned by Michelle Whinna and Jennifer Oakley. They have been involved with McDonough’s clothing drive for three years.
“We are happy we can help those who have sacrificed everything for us and our freedom,” Whinna and Oakley said. “Any opportunity we can take to help our veterans is our honor and privilege.”
McDonough said that in the past, the drive asked people to donate new clothes and food. This year the items being collected have expanded to include toiletries and blankets.
Donations of food, new winter coats, hats, scarves, socks, slippers, earmuffs, undershirts, thermal underwear, sweaters, blankets, shampoo, bar soap, razors, deodorant, sun block and lip balm would be appreciated, she said.
There are 96 former servicemen and servicewomen residing at the Hope For Veterans facility in Lyons, Bernards Township, Somerset County, which is part of the Community Hope organization, a nonprofit organization. Men’s clothing sizes range from large to 5XL and women’s clothing sizes range from large to 16.
“We want to give them the biggest and best Christmas ever,” McDonough said. “They are a great bunch of people. They are our heroes and we have to take care of them.”
McDonough said the current collection of items will run through Dec. 22. She and other volunteers will wrap the items and deliver them to the veterans on Dec. 23, two days before Christmas.
She said she believes it is important to personally deliver the donated items.
“I think it is important because as Americans we should never forget their service and sacrifice and it makes it more personal.” McDonough said. “It is very humbling for me to be in their presence and it is an honor and a privilege.”
For more information, call 973-463- 9600.