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The Villages
Friday, March 24, 2023

Project SOS working in your community

Last week, we introduced our readership to Project SOS-Support Our Soldiers, Inc. This week, we wanted to give you some specific examples of what Project SOS has done in its short time since inception in 2012. The following are projects and events the organization has led to help our veterans in all times of need.

Southeast Marion Baptist Church, Project SOS host “Thank You for your Military Service” Family Cookout

 Over 70 Veterans, some homeless and many living well below the poverty level came out to participate in afternoon the “Thank You for Your Military Service Cookout.” Each family was given a shopping bag to collect items from the makeshift clothing store set up for the event – many of the children asked for clothes and shoes, whether or not the items were the correct size. Dozens of friends and donors helped distribute medical and hygiene products, and afterwards, everyone enjoyed a great meal. Unaware of their military benefits, many veterans received VA packages enabling them to apply for VA benefits and several families were given a week’s worth of food.

 Homeless Navy Veteran and Family find a new Home

For nine months, Navy veteran John L., his wife Lynette and their son Keifer were homeless in Tennessee, finding shelter wherever they could. One day, a young man came to them and said that he wanted to help them. He showed them a picture of a houseboat he said he owned located in Deland, Florida, and offered to sell it to them for $1,100. John, desperate to find a home for his family, sold everything they had to raise the money and buy the houseboat. After driving from Tennessee to Deland, they found that the houseboat was completely rotted from inside out and infested with roaches. Having no choice, the family used the vessel for shelter.

Pastor Mark Smith from the Church of The Forest reached out to Project SOS for assistance. Within three weeks, Project SOS was able to find a replacement mobile home for John and his family, and the church offered their own land to put it on. After buying the mobile home, cleaning it from top to bottom, installing the necessary hookups, and assisting John with his VA benefits, the family was able to move into the mobile home with much safer and more sanitary conditions. And it doesn’t stop there – John and his family “passed it forward” and came out to help serve 240 other homeless veterans living in the Ocala National Forest.


Project SOS & Sandy Acres Baptist Church serving meals to Children living in the Forest

Project SOS now supports Sandy Acres Baptist Church in helping to provide over 1,800 meals a month to children living in the Ocala National Forest. Every Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night, busloads of hungry children arrive at Sandy Acres Baptist Church on Route 42. For many, it is the only hot meal they will receive during the week.

Picking up the children in the forest and feeding them is an expensive task for a small church. The program was on the verge of ending when Project SOS stepped in to offer its support. Every month, Project SOS provides the gasoline for the buses, food for the tables, and support to the children in hopes to improve their disposition and outlook. This year, a deluxe Christmas dinner was made possible by Dennis Denshar and Honey Baked Ham. With the help of Johnson & Johnson, Solid Rock Evangelical Church, and many generous donors, all of the children received new clothes and presents. Despite the chilly weather, children stayed warm with mittens, hats, and scarves provided by the “Angels” of Busy Hands and Happy Hearts in The Villages.

If you are interested in finding out more information, or in helping further the cause, please visit Project SOS’s website by clicking here. 

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