The Chapter 4 Disabled American Veterans of Pine County have six remaining green DAV boxes scattered around the county, including Willow River, Askov, Sandstone, Hinckley and Finlayson.
Ron Stauffer, commander of the Chapter 4 DAV, said the organization made the decision to remove all boxes from Pine City because people threw garbage in and around the donation boxes.
The 71 year old, 100 percent disabled Vietnam veteran is frustrated by the lack of respect towards the donation boxes.
He said there are photos of people crawling into the bins and stealing donations from the veterans. He added that stealing from the boxes is illegal and people can be prosecuted.
“We have had at least $500 worth of good locks cut off of the boxes,” Stauffer said.
The only donations the DAV accepts in the green boxes is clothes, blankets, jackets, shoes, purses and backpacks. Residents need to secure their donations in garbage bags before they place them inside the bins. The senior citizen veterans spend many hours of their time sorting through the unacceptable items and packing up loose donations, said Stauffer. They also find sharp objects such as needles, knives or broken glass thrown loose into the bins.
“It’s the needles that we worry about,” Stauffer said. “They’re so small. They can be wrapped up in clothes and we could get stabbed.”
Once the veterans sort through the donations they separate them into usable and unusable piles.
The veterans pay to dispose of unacceptable donations and garbage out of their own pockets, Stauffer said.
Next, the veterans haul the bags of clothing items to Savers, where they are weighed. Savers pay the DAV 25 cents per pound. A few weeks later the veterans receive a check in the mail for an average of $1,000.
The entire check goes towards helping veterans in need, Stauffer said. The DAV gives veterans clothes, furniture, assistance with housing and food. They also donated $1,000 to Pine County Veteran Services in 2020.
The Pine County Veterans Services purchase a variety of gift cards for different amounts and different places around the county, explains Mindy Sandell, service officer. She said the biggest needs are groceries and gas. Other veterans organizations also donate gift cards throughout the year.
“One veteran wouldn’t have had food for Christmas for his family,” Sandell said as she remembered the veterans she has helped over the years.
Another big need is transportation to and from medical appointments.
The DAV also helps with personal transportation for veterans.
“We bought a veteran a vehicle after his broke down,” Stauffer said. “He needed it to get back and forth to work to take care of his family.”
The DAV picks up donations of household items or furniture in good shape from residents’ homes.
Stauffer said the majority of DAV members are in their 70s and 80s and only about 25 of the 400 members are active and involved in meetings and events.
He said due to the aging of the veterans, they will lock the DAV boxes and stop accepting donations during the winter months. The green boxes are the biggest fundraiser for the Pine County DAV. Other fundraisers include selling popcorn at events, working at local carnivals, car shows and other local events.
Stauffer said they hope younger veterans join the organization and breathe new energy into the DAV.
The DAV meets at the American Legion, 306 Lawler Ave. N., Hinckley, at 6:30 p.m. every third Thursday of the month.
For more information on how to join the DAV, to make a cash donation or for a donation pick up call