WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – As we head into Veterans Day, many of us are looking for ways to show our support to the men and women who have served our country. WNYHeroes provides important support programs and services for local veterans every day of the year.
Currently, WNYHeroes runs eight programs for veterans and their families, ranging from direct assistance paying bills to scholarships to peer to peer programs for combat vets.
Next week, the organization will officially launch its newest program: Operation Automotive.
“This is all about giving cars to veterans who might not have a car, need a car, or they have a car and it needs more work than they can afford to put into it,” explained Chris Kreiger, president and co-founder of WNYHeroes, Inc.
WNY Heroes has been providing vehicles for veterans for a few years now, passing along donated cars and trucks as they came in.
Now, with partnerships with a number of local auto and tire shops, they’re formalizing the program, and holding a kickoff event at their Williamsville office on November 16.
During the launch event, a local veteran will receive a truck donated by Jonathan Cote’s family.
Cote served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, then returned to Iraq as a contractor, providing escorts for military transports. On November 16, 2006, Cote and four others were kidnapped by insurgents near Basra. After 523 days, Cote’s and his co-workers’ remains were returned to their families.
Cote’s family has kept the truck that belonged to their fallen son and brother since then, but are giving it away to help another veteran in need.
Their donation to help launch the Operation Automotive Program ensures Cote’s service and sacrifice will not be forgotten, nor will the service and sacrifice of the other veterans who returned home to Western New York and may now need some support as they re-integrate into civilian life.
“We always want to make sure that every veteran is taken care of,” said Lynn Magistrale, program coordinator for WNYHeroes.
“The community support’s been tremendous. We have a total right now of I believe five more cars waiting to be fixed and donated out to our veterans here in Western New York,” Kreiger said.
Still, more community support is always needed for all of the WNYHeroes programs, especially the Adopt A Veteran Family program as we head into the holiday season.
Sponsors are matched with local veterans and their families, to take care of wish lists ranging from basic household needs to big toys for the kids.
“Last year, we helped 160 families and we’re always looking to double all our programs,” Magistrale told News 4. “We don’t want the need out there to be doubled, but we want the word to be out there doubled and to be able to help somebody if there is a need.”
To learn more about how you can help, go to www.wnyheroes.org.