The freezing temperature did not discourage locals from dropping off clothes, blankets and toiletries to the home of Derry’s Councilor-at-Large, Joshua Bourdon. For the third year in a row, he and his wife have opened up their garage to collecting materials for the Liberty House, a non-profit that offers services and substance-free housing to homeless veterans in the Manchester area.
Bourdon and fellow councilor, Richard Tripp were out early last Sunday morning helping to move boxes and bag out of cars and sorting them with the assistance of family and neighbors. Tripp said he usually buys toilet paper for the Liberty House, as well as peanut butter, jelly and most importantly, coffee. Tripp is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1617 in Derry, who got involved in helping to fund and support the Liberty House. The house only has room for 12 veterans at a time and offers services to both men and women. The post gives Tripp “$50 a month to spend on stuff for Liberty House.” Tripp said post members also go to the hospitals to talk to the vets.
But it’s not just the VFW that does its part. Other groups join the VFW to host bingo nights for veterans. “The Boy Scouts host bingo, the American Legion hosts bingo. They got bingo every night of the month,” said Tripp. “So, there’s got to be at least 30 organizations.”
The drive started at 10 a.m. but cars were lining the quiet side street by 10:30 a.m. Tripp had announced the drive at the Londonderry Veteran’s Day Breakfast the previous morning.
Bourdon and dedicated few sorted items into clothing for men and women, non-perishable foods, blankets and toiletries. Said he wanted to get involved and give back because his brother had served. “Seeing the struggles that his fellow veterans went through when they were coming home from Afghanistan inspired me to do more.” Bourdon said. “I learned in any given year there are 250 homeless vets in the state.” The number drove he and his wife to start a project to get those veterans what they need.
“It seems unconscionable that we have homeless veterans freezing in the state of New Hampshire every winter,” Bourdon said.
Last year, the drive managed to fill one of the bay of Bourdon’s two car garage. This year, even by 11 a.m. he estimated that there would be enough boxes to fill both bays. “It’ll probably spill over into the driveway,” he said. He teamed up with the VFW and the American Legion to get the donated materials to Liberty House. Derick Anderson of the Derry School Board was also on hand to help.
Tripp said the donations they received last year only lasted about three months. Liberty House gives them to the vets living there, but it also gives some of the donations to other homeless people in Manchester. The more donations Tripp and Bourdon get, the longer they will hopefully last.
Those interested in donating clothes, toiletries or even their time can contact the VFW Post 1617 at 432-9702, the American Legion Post 27 at 437-6613, or the Liberty House at 669-0761.