By B.C. Manion
People can pick up some bargains and help homeless female veterans at the same time at an event planned for Veterans Day at Community Thrift Store in Lutz.
The event on Nov. 11 is aimed at helping homeless women veterans and their families, many who live in Tampa Bay and lack the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter.
The charity event is the first of many that are intended to kick off a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $500,000 to provide the first facility for homeless veteran women and their children, said Sara Romeo, chief executive officer for Tampa Crossroads.
Tampa Crossroads is in partnership with Samaritan Charities and Community Thrift Store to present the benefit from noon to 4 p.m. at 21021 SR 54 in Lutz.
The charity event will feature food, games, arts and crafts, auction and entertainment, said Roger Wertel, of Samaritan Charities.
Quite a few vendors are expected and space for more is available, Wertel said.
The vendors will donate a portion of their proceeds to the quest to provide housing for homeless female veterans, Wertel said.
“We’ve got food trucks coming in,” Wertel said. He added, items from the thrift store will also be auctioned.
The event will feature a performance of the national anthem and entertainment by a DJ, Wertel said.
Some members of the Veterans of Foreign War are also expected to be on hand to help with parking, Wertel said. He added that they are seeking more volunteers.
Wertel said he was moved to get involved after seeing homeless women living under bridges.
“It broke my heart … I just can’t see women on the street like this,” Wertel said. “I just can’t believe they’re living like this. It’s sickening. It killed me.”
Based on the last count taken, which was done in January 2011, there are approximately 17,000 homeless in Hillsborough County, Romeo said. Of those, 350 are thought to be female veterans, she said.
The number of young female homeless veterans with children has been growing, as the women complete their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Romeo said.
Tampa Crossroads has one 16-bed facility for homeless female veterans, but it cannot accommodate children and already has a waiting list, Romeo said.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the Veterans Day benefit should call Wertel at (727) 277-9403.
Anyone who is interested in providing any other kind of help for the female veterans should call (813) 238-8557 ext. 100.