FAIRMONT - Fundraising has been a struggle for the Disabled American Veterans's South Central chapter, which is comprised of 400-plus men and women in Faribault, Martin, Jackson and Noble counties who were disabled while defending their country.
"A lot of our members are older," said Gary Reutzel of Fairmont. "They can't go door to door."
So instead, they're following in the footsteps of their neighboring chapter in New Ulm. Each week, the New Ulm chapter has been collecting thousands of pounds of used clothing and shoes in large green donation bins, and then transporting the items to a Savers Thrift store, which pays per pound.
"New Ulm is averaging 7,000 pounds a week," said Reutzel, noting that New Ulm has 12 bins in a two-county area, while the South Central chapter will only have two bins, both to be located in Fairmont.. "... We would be happy with $7,000 in two months."
The two bins will be out in the community beginning in February, one in the Five Lakes Centre mall parking lot, and the other at a Fairmont site yet to be determined.
"I think it's gonna be a big plus for us," Reutzel said.
He is confident there is enough used clothing in the area that the DAV's donation bins won't hurt local thrift stores such as the Salvation Army and 12 Baskets. "... There's plenty to go around."
In the future, he would like to see two bins each in Blue Earth, Jackson and Worthington.
Other assistance for the project is coming in the form of in-kind donations. For example, Dave Olson of Olson Rental in Fairmont is helping by letting the local DAV use one of his trailers to haul the donated clothing to Savers.
The DAV is also seeking donated space to store items after the bins are emptied, before the goods are transported to the thrift store.
"It would be tax-deductible," Reutzel said.
For more information on the local DAV chapter, or if you think you can be of assistance with the project, contact chapter commander Joseph Stauffer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the donation bins, go online to davmn.org/donate-volunteer-veterans/clothing-donations