The Salvation Army often helps veterans in need connect to housing, but the Army in Long Beach, Calif., took it a step further to offer “welcome home” gift packs.

Stocked with dishes, glassware, flatware, pots and pans, cooking utensils, bath towels, a Crock Pot or toaster, rugs, shower curtains bedding, a $300 voucher to a Salvation Army Family Store and a $45 Walmart gift card, the starter kits help furnish the homes of local veterans.  

“We make sure that they have plenty of food when they receive their kit, and remind them that they are welcome to come every two months for food, or monthly if needed,” said Major Judy Hedgren, social service and community coordinator for the Long Beach Citadel Corps. “We are also able to help with utility assistance if they are in need of that.”

The program began as a way to serve female veterans and their families, but has since expanded to help any veteran who has received a Department of Housing and Urban Development or VA Supportive Housing Program voucher and is referred to the citadel by a caseworker.

“I appreciate the services The Salvation Army has available,” said Kamil Taylor-Diggs, a U.S. Army veteran honorably discharged due to a debilitating knee injury. “They have been such a help in getting us the things we need, even toys for the kids.”