By Valencia Jones

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Not everyone can make it home for Christmas, and that includes members of our U.S. military serving overseas. Some local Purple Heart veterans are working to make their holidays brighter.

The holidays are especially tough for servicemen and women serving overseas between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Members of Chapter 576 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Alpharetta decided to let them know they’re not forgotten by sending them specially-made gift baskets.

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“This year, all four branches provided people, and they all filled their baskets,” said David Raper, the chairperson over the gift basket production.

All four military branches stepped in to help this year, in a big way, due to the pandemic. But it’s something Chapter 576 has done for the last seven years at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.  “We started going to all the different stores, Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods,” said Chapter 576 Commander John Hawes, who also referenced Trader Joe’s as a contributor.

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“People like Zaxby’s, they contributed 200 gift cards at $20 a card that went in each basket,” said Past Commander for Chapter 576 Walter Swenson.

They say those stores and other chains donated hams, turkey breasts, beans and other items. The Georgia Purple Heart Veterans Foundation contributed some of its donations toward the baskets.

Chapter 576 has increased the number of baskets over the years. “It started out at 25, and it grew in increments,” said Raper.

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On December 6, 2020, they all created 200 baskets. Commanders for the four branches determined who would get them, and they confidentially delivered them to the soldiers most in need.  The Purple Heart veterans say it’s all for the worthy cause of saluting servicemen and women during the holidays and for the sacrifices they make every day.