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Hickory volunteers donate backpacks filled with essential items, sleeping mats to Salisbury VA

By Todd Goodman
Salisbury VA Health Care System

SALISBURY — A club in Hickory —Volunteer Outreach in Community Efforts — is making a big difference in the lives of the homeless.

On Friday, the club, which has 13 members, chose to help homeless veterans by donating 25 field backpacks and sleeping mats to the Salisbury VA Medical Center. Led by founder Marcia Hubbard, club members spend a lot of time volunteering and reaching out to community leaders and organizations.  

“I began volunteering at the Hickory Soup Kitchen about a year ago,” said Hubbard. “I was touched and needed to do more.”

She started making the sleeping mats, which is a national initiative called Bags to Beds, and giving those out. The mats are made from plastic grocery store bags, which are flattened, cut into strips and crocheted together — a time consuming process. 

Dawud Hughes, vice president of V.O.I.C.E., Marcia Hubbard, president and founder of V.O.I.C.E, and Les Eason, Voluntary Services chief (Salisbury VA) display a donation of backpacks and sleeping mats that will be distributed to homeless veterans.

She did backpack drives at various agencies, to include the United Way in Catawba County. The generous outpouring of community support at those drives was so good that she was able to help the homeless in Rowan County — in this case, Salisbury veterans.

“I wanted to come here because veterans are near and dear to my heart,” she said, “especially homeless veterans. I come from a strong military background and family.” 

The backpacks contain 12 essential items, which Hubbard learned were essential by speaking to the homeless. Wherever she volunteered, she’d ask what items are most helpful.   

“They want baby wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dry shampoo, activity books, gloves, socks, ponchos, those types of things,” said Hubbard.

These backpacks and sleeping mats are a welcome donation for the Salisbury VA. 

“The donation of backpacks and sleeping mats are an asset to our Health Care for Homeless Veterans Outreach clothing closet and will be well utilized by our homeless veterans,” said Natalie Shaver, LCSW and supervisor of Homeless Community-Based Programs at the Salisbury VA. 

Veterans who present to outreach often looking for items that they can easily transport and utilize for everyday needs.

“The donated backpacks and sleeping mats fulfill that very request,” said Shaver. “The HCHV appreciates the support of Ms. Hubbard and Volunteer Outreach in Community Efforts program as well as the time spent organizing and creating the bags and mats.” 

“We’re glad to help,” said Hubbard. We’ve got a really good team behind us. Without them, none of this would be possible.” 

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