WEST CHESTER (March 13, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced that David’s Drive 831 (DD831), a local nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting homeless and hospitalized veterans, will receive $15,000 in state funding through the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF).

The program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), is funded by generous Pennsylvanians who voluntarily make a $3 donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or photo ID and also renewing a motor vehicle registration. Additionally, proceeds come from the sale of the Honoring Our Veterans license plate and private donations.

“Our veterans have given so much for our nation and this goes to show that small donations add up and make a difference when it comes to supporting organizations that work to assist them and improve their lives,” Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said. “David’s Drive is a great group that has set that bar when it comes to serving veterans in our region. I’m proud to know the Turner family and want to thank them for turning a personal tragedy into a cause that has touched the lives of so many veterans.”

David Turner Sr., who with his family founded DD831 in memory of his late son, said the funds would support the organization’s 9th annual Christmas Gift Wrapping Extravaganza in which volunteers wrap 1,000 gifts, containing socks, snacks, puzzle books, and personal care items for homeless and hospitalized veterans.

 “Every year we wrap about 1,000 gifts. We offer them to any veterans who will accept. That’s just who we are,” he said. “We do this to honor our son and an added bonus is helping veterans and members of the community.”

Turner Sr. added that the organization is honored to receive the grant funding and he also thanked the many generous patrons, volunteers, and donors who have supported its efforts over the years.

“It’s not difficult to find veterans in need. Fortunately, it’s one of those things where people like to help veterans and in Chester County they are very generous,” he said. “That support is really what makes possible for us to do what we do.”

Turner and his family started DD831 following the sudden passing of David Turner Jr. from a suspected cardiac arrhythmia in December 2009. Turner Jr. worked at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center and had a passion for serving veterans in need. 

That May, the Turner family held a cookout at their home to celebrate what would have been David’s 21st birthday. Guests were invited to bring new packages of socks, underwear, and t-shirts – the items most in demand by veterans at the Coatesville VA. That day, the Turner family collected thousands of items and was nearly overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity. From there, DD831 was born.

This year, DD831 will hold its 9th Annual “Show Us Your Underwear Drive” on May 20. The event begins at 12 p.m. and anyone who donates new men’s or women’s socks, underwear, or t-shirts will receive a free lunch catered by Triple Fresh Market. It will be held at 1 Somerset Drive in Coatesville.

In reflecting on the organization’s nearly 10 years of service, Turner Sr. discussed the group’s effort to expand and assist veterans in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties who are transitioning to independent living through the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.

DD831 works closely with case managers and social workers to identify veterans through this program and provide them with a “starter kit” that contains living essentials like a bed, bedding, personal care products, housewares, small appliances like a vacuum and microwave, and other necessities for the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.

“So far we’ve done 430 starter kits. Every veteran than receives a (HUD-VASH) voucher from the Coatesville VA gets one,” Turner Sr. said.

Earlier this year, in recognition of their work, Turner and DD831 received the George Washington Award at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge 2018 Local Hero Gala.

“Any recognition or any awards go to the community. We’re just the conduit. They’re the people who give, volunteer, and support us to make this possible,” Turner Sr said.  

DD831 was one of 18 charitable and veterans services organizations statewide to receive $650,000 in total funding through the Pennsylvania VTF this year. Funding priorities for grants in this category were veterans’ programs focused on transitional housing/community living, unique veteran health services or other programs addressing newly identified, unmet or emerging needs of veterans and their families.

Since the VTF grant program began in 2013, a total of $2,832,860 has been awarded to organizations that serve Pennsylvania veterans.

For more information on David’s Drive 831, visit www.davidsdrive831.org.

 

 

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