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Veterans saluted at ‘Socks for Heroes’ event

Several veterans at an event Saturday organized to show appreciation to them for their sacrifices dodged the spotlight and instead focused their attention on the volunteers in charge.

Socks for Heroes, an all-volunteer organization founded four years ago to collect socks and other necessities for veterans in state homes, held a Veterans Appreciation Day at the Exchange Club Park.

American Idol top five finalist Skylar Laine sang, teenagers competed in a hot dog eating contest and the midway was open with rides, game booths and food.

Money raised helped the organization, but Cathy Stroud hoped it would be a good way for those in the community to come show their respect for those who have served their country.

Veterans there, however, wanted the focus to be on Stroud and her cause.

“We’re not here to be recognized,” said veteran Derrall Foster. “We’re here really to raise money for Socks for Heroes. People are good about giving donations.”

The money raised Saturday will go to help veterans in state homes — four in Mississippi — as well as local veterans in private nursing homes and assisted living centers.

“A lot of these guys [in veterans’ homes and nursing homes] don’t have families, or their family drops them there and cuts ties with them,” said veteran Bob “Bear” Wallace. “Brookhaven does a lot for veterans. I’ve never seen more respectful kids toward vets than the ones in Lincoln County.”

Last year, Stroud’s group collected 5,800 pairs of socks plus everything else on their list. They’re expanding this year to include five state homes in Louisiana and two in Arkansas, she said.

Still, she wanted the veterans she’s come to love to be celebrated.

“They’re a good bunch of people and they work hard to help us,” she said. “I was trying to tell them, ‘This is for y’all.’”

Stroud is appreciative of all the volunteer workers including students from the Wesson Beta Club.

Socks for Heroes will be set up Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln County Wildlife and Outdoor Expo to sell T-shirts.

For more information email Stroud at socksforheroes@yahoo.com. They’re on Facebook at Socks for Heroes MS.