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Posted on Dec 17, 2015

Students brighten holidays for vets

Homeless veterans across North Central and Eastern Washington may benefit from the generosity of some Quincy Junior High School students.
Members of Phil Averill’s eighth-grade American history class held a bake sale last month in conjunction with Veterans Day. They made $210 and gave it to Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, a Spokane organization that helps veterans with housing and other needs.
“That was a cool thing,” said Tommy Borges, the agency’s activities support specialist.
He explained that the money will go into an account for the homeless veteran program. That fund is used to help vets pay utility deposits or other expenses related to moving into government-subsidized housing.
“It goes to a very good cause,” Borges said.
HHV has worked with almost 400 formerly homeless veterans who now have roofs over their head. The organization serves people from the Chelan area to parts of Idaho.
“We have vets in their 70s and 80s,” Borges said. “We have 30 employees. They are all on the road taking care of vets out in the rural communities.”
Averill said his history class selects a different way to honor veterans each year. Once, they solicited photos of veterans from area families and made a slide show. Last year, a panel of speakers was convened at the school.
“The kids pick what it’s going to be,” Averill said, adding it’s a way to teach students the importance of being good citizens.
Students held their bake sale to coincide with parent-teacher conferences, many of which were held at night. Kids stayed in the building until 7 p.m. some days to sell their sweet creations Averill said.
“They dedicated a lot of time to it,” he said.
The donation then was turned over to Mark Owens, treasurer of George VFW Post 24. Owens then gave the money to Herb Petrak, a Quincy resident and U.S. Air Force veteran who has long had contact with Borges and HHV.
“We know your location in Spokane and the good work you do there,” Petrak wrote in a letter to Borges.
The Petraks have donated clothing and food to HHV for the past several years.
While students raised almost all of the $210, they failed to reach that exact number by a little bit, said Petrak’s wife, Sharon. She chipped in out of her own pocket to hit the $210 plateau. Was it the Christmas spirit that moved her?
Possibly, but there was another reason, too.
“I abhor uneven amounts,” she said with a laugh.
As for Borges, he couldn’t be happier to have young benefactors in Quincy.
“We do a lot of things here that come from the heart,” he said. “We’re veterans helping veterans.”


— By Steve Kadel,

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