Musicfest in Bridgeport brought forth a large crowd for its first year. Charlie Ash and Adam Hankins coordinators were thrilled with the excellent foundational start, they are planning on now making it an annual event. Alvis Sound was gracious enough to sponsor the sound and stage portion of the event, with local bands donating their musical gifts to make the Lanterman Park come alive all to benefit Veterans, which the local Rolling Thunder, Illinois 3 was the benefactor of this year's event.
Tony Schmidt, President shared that the organization has presently 146 members, they were given Saturday a 436.00 donation, a truck load of toiletry donations,which Schmidt shared, that Sue Hankins takes great care to sort for distribution to the various VA facilities. Hankins reported the following information regarding, " The items donated will be distributed to Heritage Shelter Care in Hutsonville; the VA clinics in Effingham and Evansville and the centers in Danville and Marion. The canned food received will go to Heritage that houses 55+ veterans; also some of the larger toiletries will go there too. The personal sized toiletries will be bagged up to go to the VA clinics to be offered to the vets as take with. The items such as the socks, tees and such will go to the VA centers in Danville and Marion. Any cash donations are used to buy items that might be needed for any of the above or if we receive a veteran's request for assistance with utility bills or rent. Some of the toiletry bags that go to the Evansville VA Clinic are distributed by their volunteer group to homeless veterans that show up at the homeless shelter in Evansville."
President Tony Schmidt,of Rolling Thunder also shared they help facilitate educating the public on the 82,000 unaccounted for since WW1, assist families from all wars and their featured work with the POW - MIA Chair as well. Their work with Illinois - 3, has consistently provided assistance with putting money for the VA for their Bingo and money on the books for incidentals as well. Since Covid has become an issue, it has made everything more difficult, but they have continued to send monetary contributions, as well as making donations such as those that have been given Saturday. The traditional Rolling Thunder national rides such as the Virgina Fest, the National Ride for Freedom and the Gold Star POW -MIA recognition ride in Georgia all were cancelled this year due to Covid-19. Rolling Thunder Illinois -3, was however able to in July be a part of a parade that was held at Danville VA, that was featured for the veterans there.
What does not shut down, is the need for compassionate care and continual support for our veterans during any turbulent time, in fact they need it possibly more. The vision of those such as Ash and Hankins to provide something that is uplifting and focus on others just might be music for the soul for everyone involved.