When warm weather hits the North Shore, people head to their favorite farmer’s market. It’s the essence of American tradition. A community-gathering place, the farmer’s market is a place to catch up with neighbors, bring home fresh local fare to the family, and discover homemade crafts from local artists.
Now, it is also a place to make a difference.
This Saturday, the Fox Point Farmers Market, 7300 N. Lombardy Rd., is holding a donation drive. They are asking visitors to donate new and gently used kitchen items to the Milwaukee Veterans Homeless Initiative.
The non-profit organization helps veteran’s “get back on their feet,” by providing furniture, household items, and a weekly food delivery service for veterans living on a fixed-income.
When American veterans return to the State’s after war, they don’t always have a home to come back to. With nowhere to turn, many veterans end up living on the streets.
Milwaukee has a homeless population of about 1,500 on any given night. Of those, more than 25 percent are veterans, according to statistics provided by Veterans for Peace, the Milwaukee chapter that heads the Milwaukee Veterans Homeless Initiative.
"We started out small, things like bus tickets, and as time when on, we identified needs and tried to be the organization that fills in the gap," said Bill Christofferson, Milwaukee Homeless Veteran's Initiative board president. "One of the things that we learned, is that when veterans do find a place to live, and get off the streets, or get discharged from the VA, its great that they get an apartment, but they don’t own a piece of furniture, they don’t have a can opener, they don’t have anything. "
The Fox Point Farmers Market has been lending a hand to the initiative for four years. In addition to collecting household items, the farmer’s market also donates surplus produce from vendors to the organization’s weekly food program. The food pantry serves about 200 people a week, Christofferson said.
“People are so generous,” said Mary LaCharite, market manager. “People who are cleaning house or downsizing have brought plates and silverware, to microwaves. A lady called last year and donated a refrigerator. All of those things have been really appreciated.”
Through their food collections, LaCharite estimates they have donated thousands of pounds of produce to the veterans’ food pantry, the only one of its kind in the state.
“The community is really supportive,” she said.
An information table will be set up in the west lot of Stormonth School, where the items will be collected on Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon, though donations are welcome anytime, said LaCharite.
The event is sponsored by the Milwaukee North Sunrise Rotary.