Veterans home staff raise money for residents' Christmas gifts

Car and bike show at the Nebraska Vets Home, Grand Island (NTV).

Santa Clause is coming to town! Well, at least for residents at the Nebraska Veterans Home.

Sunday, it held the annual bike and car show that helps buy presents for vets during the holidays.

Christmas may seem far away, but this car show raises just enough money to allow staff members to do a little early Christmas shopping for the vets before December gets here.

"We are their family, so we want to make sure they have the best Christmas ever. A group of staff got together and started this out of love," Linda Lewis, Unit Clerk at the Nebraska Veterans Home, said.

And it wouldn't be Christmas without presents.

For the past 18 years, the staff at the Nebraska Vets home has been holding a bike and car show to raise money for Christmas presents.

"All the money that we get today goes back to our members in a form of a personalized Christmas gift," Lewis said.

They charge a $10 entry fee for the contest, which allows them to buy each member a personal gift up to $75.

"It's like little boys looking forward to a Christmas present," Retired veteran, Jose Trejo, said.

Some say the staff at the vets home is what makes the holidays just a little easier.

"A lot of times, the family comes in and they just dumps us off and they don't bother to come back. Therefore, they take the place of the family and fill the void that the family has left. So yes, we appreciate them, I know I do," Trejo said.

For veterans like Bill Fullmer, who is a retired Air Force veteran, the car show is a time for him to reflect on his time in the military.

"I go way back to a long line of veterans, clear back to the American revolution and Civil War. My father was in World War I and I'm a Vietnam veteran and my brother was a Vietnam veteran back in the '60s," Fullmer said.

He also said the nurturing staff is why he loves living at the Vets home.

With Monday being September 11, the flags at the Veterans Home already began flying half-staff on Sunday.

Trejo said when flags fly at half-staff people should take heed and remember why they have the freedoms that they do.

"That means somebody paid the ultimate price to keep everyone else free. People have to realize that that's quite the sacrifice to make," Trejo said.

"I just feel real proud that they stick together, helping each other out, and they're proud people. American people are proud," Fullmer said.

Governor Pete Ricketts has ordered all flags fly at half-staff on Monday, Sept. 11, in honor of Patriot Day.

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