People who attended a Red Deer Canada Day fundraiser in support of homeless veterans were shelling out more than just their one-cent shillings on Sunday.
The Pennies for Homeless Veterans — an organization focused on improving the quality of life for Canadian veterans — had its first annual event on July 1, in the far east parking lot of Parkland Mall, to honour veterans who made Canada Day possible for all Canadians.
The Pennies for Homeless Veterans committee hoped to also bring awareness to the hundreds of soldiers who suffer from psychological trauma.
The event was put on in partnership with the Royal Canadian Legion 35, Parkland Mall and the Southern Cruisers Riding Club.
Glenn Rhodes, co-founder of the The Pennies for Homeless Veterans and a member of the Cruisers Riding Club, said he took up the cause after hearing a news report about the lack of support for Canadian veterans.
“I was upset about the fact that our veterans are not being looked after in this country,” he said.
“If the government is not going to do their job then we will, the Canadian people, we will stand behind our troops and we will support them from coast-to-coast,” he said.
The statistics regarding Canada’s homeless veterans are still unknown but Pennies for Homeless Veterans estimates that there are likely thousands of veterans living on the streets.
Bobbi McCoy, co-founder of the The Pennies for Homeless Veterans and vice-president of the Command Royal Canadian Legion, says there have been two confirmed cases of veterans living on the streets in Red Deer.
“What an appropriate day for this event,” she said.
“If it were not for these men and women we would not be standing here and celebrating Canada Day. A veteran is a veteran no matter what and it is our commitment to dig deep,” she said.
“Finally homeless veterans get some support that they need and the average Canadian will be able to participate and bring some relief,” said Royal Canadian Legion executive chairman Garry Hodge.
Hodge, a veteran himself, worked 15 years with the Canadian Forces and participated in peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Bosnia and Croatia.
He says Victoria recently built a facility for homeless veterans and it is “overwhelmed with need.”
Pennies for Homeless Veterans have outreach programs in Halifax, Montreal and Calgary.
The event in Red Deer featured a vintage vehicle and motorcycle show and shine, a ceremony, much like that on Remembrance Day, a parade and musical entertainment.
For more information visit, www.canadianveteransadvocacy.com/pennies.