‘Sweats for Vets’ founder appeals to public for holiday donations
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Region – In a region that has celebrated eight major sports championships in just over a decade, it’s a common sight to see many wearing clothing bearing the logos of those winning teams. Everyone, it seems, wants to show their Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, or Bruins pride.
That includes, Mark Vital believes, homeless veterans.
Vital is the president and founder of “Sweats for Vets,” an organization whose goal is to provide sports-related sweatshirts to homeless veterans each Christmas Eve. Over the past few years, he has done just that, thanks to the generous donations of citizens and businesses.
Vital, who is a teacher at the Advanced Math and Science Academy, is also a veteran himself. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and served in the Army’s Corps of Engineers at Fort Ord, Calif., from 1983 to 1987.
Each year, Vital said, his sixth-grade students at AMSA collect winter hats, gloves, and socks for homeless veterans. In 2011, a chance encounter that a parent of one student had with a veteran prompted Vital to start Sweats for Vets.
“She saw a veteran with a Washington Redskins sweatshirt and commented that he was in Patriots’ Nation. He quietly responded, ‘I know, but it is the only shirt I have.’ This story still brings a tear to my eyes,” Vital recounted on his website www.sweats4vets.com.
Last year Vital was able to donate 200 sweatshirts to veterans affiliated with the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston and Veterans Inc. of Shrewsbury.
This year, he would like to double that total. As such, he is making an urgent appeal to the public to help him reach that goal by donating men’s large or extra-large sweatshirts.
“People often don’t realize that just because a veteran isn’t living on the street, he isn’t homeless,” he said. “But places like Vets Inc. are actually transitional homeless shelters.”
Many veterans may be facing an issue like a medical problem, alcohol or drug abuse, or post-traumatic stress that holds them back from moving on, he added.
Sweatshirts can be dropped off at two Marlborough locations, AMSA, 201 Forest St., and the Italian American War Veterans Post 45, 111 Neil St.; two Westborough locations, Julio’s Liquors, 140 Turnpike Road, and the Westborough Senior Center, 4 Rogers Road; and Finnegan’s Pub, 25 South St., #5, Hudson.
Those with donations may also contact Vital at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-494-9410 and he will pick the items up.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/sweatsforvets as well for more information.
Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=43460