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CHICAGO — In Chicago’s Canaryville neighborhood, they say it’s a case of “There but for the grace of God go I” for a group of South Side veterans. 

Tommy Russell, president of the Canaryville Veterans Riders Association, said he and his fellow servicemen and women are storming the beach and hitting the hill to keep homeless veterans warm, collecting as much cold weather gear as possible from now until the end of November.

“Hats, gloves, scarves, socks, anything that keeps these guys warm,” Russell said.  

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The 15th Ward at 40th and Wallace is the headquarters for the labor of love.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th Ward) says his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served in the military. 

“To assume that government can do it all is not feasible. We have to take care of each other, especially during the holidays and this is an easy way to do it and I encourage all the viewers to come out,” Lopez said. “If you couldn’t make it today, you can bring anything you want to my office and I’ll make sure it gets to the Canaryville Veterans in the coming weeks.”

The Canaryville Veterans Riders Association collects warm clothing to provide to veterans without homes on Thursday, Nov. 17. (Photo: WGN)

The Guardian Corps of America will distribute the coats and more to homeless vets.

“It’s not getting better. Right now, in Cook County alone, we have approximately 2,000-plus veterans who go homeless and hungry every evening in Cook County alone,” said Anthony La Piana with Guardian Corps of America. 

Locals Cindy Diorio and Mary Shadden-Perez said they are happy to help.  

“We need to give back and this [coat drive] is a great one,” Diorio said.  

“It’s a really great cause. So many people and it’s cold outside,” Shadden-Perez added. 

Whether a homeless vet decides to leave the streets or not, the mission is still the same.

“They feel like human beings again,” Russell said.  

Drop Off LocationsDrop Box Locations

The Village Inn
4035 S. Wallace St.
CRVA will be there every Saturday from 1-5 p.m., accepting donations
8th District Chicago Police Department
3420 W. 63rd St.
St. Gabriel Catholic Church (after church)
600 W. 45th St.

9th District Chicago Police Department
3120 S. Halsted St.
Mark White Square Post 6870 VFW
3152 S. Wallace St.

12th District Chicago Police Department
1412 S. Blue Island Ave.

WM. McKinley American Legion Post 231
1956 W. 3th St.

The Canaryville Veterans Riders Association Annual Coat Drive for Homeless Veterans accepts the following garments in all sizes:

  • Coats
  • Sweaters
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Scarfs
  • Boots
  • Blankets
  • And any other winter accessories