Clay County Veterans Service Officer Mike Holland has looked into two separate incidents of individuals falsely soliciting for donations at local retail establishments.
Holland told The Brazil Times the first reported incident allegedly involved a group of college-age students who were under the impression they were getting college credit for volunteering to collect donations for the Purple Heart Organization.
"The word I got was they were Ivy Tech students, and they thought they were doing a real service for veterans," Holland said. "I contacted the real Purple Heart Organization of Indiana and was told there was not anyone collecting money in their name in the area."
The second incident Holland discovered himself while making a visit to a local grocery store.
A man was outside the entryway selling flag pins supposedly in support of the Disabled American Veterans in Indianapolis.
"When I asked the office inside (about the solicitor), they didn't even know there was someone outside doing that," Holland said. "They went outside to question him and he left."
Holland believes a business should always get the person or organization's name, phone number and point of contact for their records.
"Personally, in my own opinion, companies should only let local groups solicit funds, so hopefully, the money will stay in the local community," Holland said. "It's a lot easier to verify the intentions of solicitors if it is a local phone number."
According to law enforcement officials, if a person suspects they have been approached by a bogus solicitor, they may contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211 or the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 446-2535 to report the incident.
According to Holland, Brazil and Clay County veterans, and residents in need, are very fortunate to live in such a compassionate community during times of trouble. He said many local not-for-profit organizations have programs and relief funds to help people with food, clothing, utilities and other living needs.
"There are some that will even plan or let families have benefits in their facilities," Holland said. "Brazil is lucky to have groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Eagles, Moose and the Elks and families like Marine Cpl. Gregory Scott Stultz and many others. They all support and hold fundraisers for those in need of help."
Holland cited the community-wide effort during the past year to raise more than $10,000 in donations to purchase a new van to take local veterans to scheduled appointments to the VA Clinic in Terre Haute and VA Hospital in Indianapolis as a prime example.
"I personally want to thank Marion 'Sarge' Eveland, the VFW, American Legion, Eagles, the National Guard, the DAV, The Brazil Times and all the other groups, churches, and private individuals for their donations and assistance for the new van for the Clay County veterans," he said.
Volunteer Drivers Needed
The Clay County Veterans Service Office is seeking volunteer drivers to take veterans to medical appointments. For more information, contact The Clay County Veterans Service Officer Mike Holland in person at Room 104 on the first floor of the Clay County Courthouse, 609 E National Ave., Brazil, or by phone at 448-9015. Holland's office hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed during 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), Monday-Tuesday, and 8-11:30 a.m., Wednesday.
To help purchase a new van to transport local veterans to scheduled medical appointments to VA hospitals or clinics, donations can be dropped off at Riddell National Bank (checks should be made payable to the Clay County Vets Mini-Van Group) or contact Marion "Sarge" Eveland.