Iowa couple collects donations for veterans in son’s honor
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A Cedar Falls couple continues to hold a donation drive for residents of the Iowa Veterans Home in memory of their son killed in Afghanistan in 2007.
For more than a decade, Kandie and Brad Vaughn have put on their annual “Shower of Gifts” of toiletries and other necessary items for residents of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.
Kandie Vaughn, stepmother of U.S. Army Spc. Travis Vaughn, and her husband, Brad, hold the drive to honor the legacy of Travis Vaughn.
They thought about shutting it down after 10 years, but they’ve found the interest has made them continue, Brad Vaughn said. “We really don’t want to give it up yet.”
“It not only keeps Travis’ memory alive, but it shows the other veterans that their service and sacrifice hasn’t been forgotten either,” Kandie Vaughn said. “We can do that to 500 people in one day. It’s pretty amazing.”
Kandie and Brad Vaughn will accept items at the Cedar Falls Eagles Club and hold a chili luncheon.
“It’s just a way of saying thank you to the community,” Kandie Vaughn said. “Our plan is to box it all up and deliver it on Feb. 18.”
A caravan of vehicles will get on the road that day to present the items.
About 20 people are expected to join the Vaughns on their trip, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.
The Vaughns are hoping people will donate back scratchers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, new toothbrushes, denture adhesive cleaner and socks and T-shirts for men and women.
“This year the big item to donate is back scratchers,” Kandie Vaughn said. “We took about 50 of them last year and that was the first that was gone from the table because every veteran or resident that went through grabbed a back scratcher.”
Every year more people have gotten involved, Brad Vaughn said.
“There’s about 250 that come through the line and fill up their Walmart bags,” Kandie Vaughn said.
Leftover items go to other nonprofits in the Cedar Valley.
Items can be dropped off at drop boxes at Rydell Collision, the Federal Pub in Hudson, the Cedar Falls Eagles Club and AMVETS.
A 1999 Cedar Falls High School graduate, Travis Vaughn was a member of the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. He was killed in a helicopter crash Feb. 18, 2007, in Afghanistan. He received the Army Commendation Medal for his service, among other decorations. The Vaughns began the donation drive in 2008.
“It’s an amazing day,” Kandie Vaughn said.
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com