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Milwaukie Lions raise money to benefit veterans

Tired of hauling your redeemable cans around and feeding them into a machine, only to get sticky and a couple of bucks for your effort?

Let members of the Milwaukie Lions Club lighten your load by donating your cans, and help local veterans at the same time.

Milwaukie Lions are calling their project “Cans for a Cause” and are part of a statewide drive with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support the local Honor Flight hub. At no cost to veterans, Honor Flight is dedicated to transporting as many U.S. former military personnel as possible to see the Washington D.C. memorials of the respective wars in which they fought.

Milwaukie Lions Club’s can-and-plastic-bottle drive Saturday, July 12, at the Bomber Restaurant on McLoughlin Boulevard will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot. Simply drop off your cans, and the Lions Club will take care of the rest.

“You can save yourself some time and know that your donation is going to a great cause — our vets,” said Carrie Bartley, a Milwaukie Lions member who’s helping organize the event.

Currently the Honor Flight organizers are focused on bringing veterans of World War II to the National WWII Memorial, and any veteran with a terminal illness to see the memorial of the war they fought in. Organizers plan to “naturally transition” their programs to focus on veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War and subsequent wars as the veterans of those wars get older.

Oregon currently has five regional hubs that take veterans to Washington D.C. several times a year. All funds raised locally will support local veterans.

The veterans on the honor flights are escorted by volunteer guardians, who help them on the flight and around D.C. An honor flight of 100 people, including veterans and volunteers, costs about $30,000, which is covered by donations with assistance from the airlines. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day nationwide. There is currently a waiting list of veterans here in Oregon and we know that time is critical.

“As a fundraising event, we believe that every man, woman and child in Oregon has the ability to donate at least one recyclable can or bottle to this cause, regardless of socioeconomic status,” Bartley said. “From the smallest child to the oldest senior, from the affluent to the homeless, everyone has the potential to donate one redeemable item towards this project and make a difference.”

As a statewide fundraiser, organizers’ ultimate goal is to collect the equivalent of one refundable can or plastic bottle for every man, woman and child in the state. If every citizen in Oregon donated just one can or bottle, the proceeds would sponsor 350 WWII veterans on a free “trip of a lifetime” to Washington, DC. “With your help, we can send a plane full of vets on their Honor Flight” to Washington D.C,” Bartley said.