OAK LAWN, IL — The organization Caring Patriots is currently accepting applications for its annual Holiday Food Drive event.
The event is now reaching its 12th year and the organization has provided nearly 10,000 veterans with food supplies for the holiday season. This year, Caring Patriots is teaming up with Jewel Osco to distribute the goods to veterans this December.
The organization is looking for veterans in need to be included in the annual event. They're hoping to expand their reach to veterans who have not been recipients yet.
In the past, the organization has collaborated with business, clubs, schools, churches and other organizations to collect non-perishable food items. These were also combined with fresh foods to fill baskets of groceries for veterans and their families.
Over 1,000 volunteers work to sort, pack and distribute the baskets every year. To do so, Caring Patriots collects money weeks prior to the event. This year, the organization is taking extra steps to ensure safety precautions are put in place.
Rather than receiving the traditional baskets provided every year, Caring Patriots has teamed up with Jewel Osco to give the veterans a shopping experience that allows they to pick out the products they want. This will occur at three locations, including Jewel in Oak Lawn, 8801 S Ridgeland Ave.
Volunteers will be provided to those who are unable to shop for themselves. Mike Cozzi, the founder of Caring Patriots said this project is all about saying thank you to veterans.
"There are veterans that have served in past and current conflicts that do not have the same luxury, opportunity or the same means to provide right now, that I do," Cozzi said. "We're here to show our support and our gratitude."
New Lenox Paraplegic, Josue Cordova, served in the United States Air Force and served from April 1994 to April 1996. Cordova got into a car accident in 1995 while on leave that left him paralyzed. In 1996, the air force retired him.
"I have been blessed with a basket from Caring Patriots many times in the past. This is a blessing to me and my family," Cordova said. "I feel incredibly unworthy, but I am so humbled by the generosity of caring patriots. I have been a paralyzed veteran for 25 years and I have met many organizations over time... but I think Caring Patriots shows you there are volunteers who do these acts out of the kindness of their hearts."
To get involved in the Caring Patriots food drive, visit their website for more information.