GCMSA partners with Riverside High School to raise over $3K in household and monetary donations to support local military veterans in need.
Riverside High School's Battle of the Bins was started as an extension of the GCMSA's 2022 #MaketheCut fundraiser, for which President Donna Frazier pledged to drastically cut her long hair if she raised $5K for local military veterans in need. In working on this #MaketheCut fundraiser, Committee Chair Keri Dille was connected with two organizations in Greenville County working separately to help struggling veterans in the community, the YMCA of Greenville Food Relief Program and the volunteers of Veterans are Heroes.
YMCA of Greenville began efforts to help relieve local food insecurity in 2020 when schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is staffed by volunteers, funded by grants and donations, and delivers food to those struggling in Greenville County, including many homeless veterans and their families. Led by William Coates, Director of Development at the Eastside YMCA, the Food Relief Program packs over 200 bags of food for families per week.
Meanwhile, a small group of over 70 year-old women wanting to help the vets in their
community started the volunteer program of Veterans are Heroes. Veterans Affairs offices all across the country are working hard to identify and find transitional housing for the over 33,000 homeless vets in the US. And while a roof over your head is a blessing, an empty house lacking furniture and household essentials is not a home. Veterans Are Heroes identified a need for those who have fought for our country and are now called in by the VA during every vet placement to help fill these homes with essentials. They scour garage sales, auctions, and drive all over town accepting donations daily to pull together beds, furniture, linens, and bath and kitchen supplies so these vets have everything they need to live comfortably. In 2022 alone, they helped the VA in Greenville County place over 65 homeless vets into new homes.
Jackson Dille, a sophomore student and PTSA member of Riverside High School, heard of these programs through his GCMSA member mother and proposed that RHS PTSA partner with GCMSA to continue raising funds for the Food Relief Program, as well as household items for Veterans are Heroes. Recruiting fellow runners from the RHS Cross Country Team, as well as adult members of the RHS PTSA, Jackson organized a Battle of the Bins donation drive to begin on Veterans Day and and culminate at the first RHS home basketball game on December 2nd. Just like the upcoming rival football game over Thanksgiving weekend, donors chose their favorite team to support when making a donation - Clemson University or University of South Carolina. Cash and item donations were dropped in the appropriate "bin" at both RHS and the Eastside YMCA.
The RHS Battle of the Bins raised nearly $1800 in new and used furniture and household items for Veterans are Heroes, as well as over $1400 in cash donations for the veterans of the Food Relief Program. The final total of over $3200 in donations was revealed in front of a large crowd during the halftime of the first home basketball game, with University of South Carolina being the winning team of the Battle of the Bins. And several of the RHS students joined Veterans are Heroes in moving two homeless veterans into new housing with some of the items collected during the drive.
Due to his efforts with this Battle of the Bins fundraiser, RHS student, Jackson Dille, was honored at the South Carolina PTA's 50th Anniversary Celebration as the SC PTA Student Volunteer of the Year. The RHS PTSA also received the SC PTA Award of Excellence in Patriotism and the SC PTA Award of Excellence in Student Involvement.