Couple campaigns for coats to help veterans

One couple is helping veterans by collecting coats. (photo courtesy: WANE)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne couple is working to help area veterans who are in need this holiday season. It started with just a call to action on Facebook, but with the help of a restaurant, the Army veteran and his wife are making their dream of opening a nonprofit organization a reality. It’s called “Clothes for Joes.”

According to 24-Hour News 8 sister station, WANE, Matthew and Cori Maple had always talked about helping homeless veterans. It’s an issue that hits home for them.

“I’ve had a few friends that I served with that ended up being homeless throughout the years,” said Matthew. “Being around the homeless population, knowing what’s out there, knowing how many of those guys are actually veterans– it breaks my heart to see guys who gave their life for our country have nothing.”

So this holiday season they decided to spring into action.

“I sat down one day and thought long and hard about it,” he said. “I just kind of told myself this is what we want to do, let’s get this going. I want to help these guys out.”

So they went to Facebook and put together a flyer. About three weeks into their donation drive, Texas Roadhouse joined in on the efforts.

“It ended up being two truckloads, 97 coats and we donated to the Shepherd’s House,” Cori explained.

“The day we took it over there, it was probably five or 10 vets outside,” Matthew said. “Just some of their reactions… to see guys break down in tears and overwhelmed with happiness and joy. To see these guys get the gratification of knowing that someone is doing this for [them], made it all worthwhile.”

After realizing the impact of their contributions, Matthew and Cori are already planning on another donation drive. They’re also working to make their nonprofit official.

“We always talked about it in future tense,” Cori said. “We are blown away at the fact that we can do something in the present, we can do this now.”

“It’s always been about helping others. We feel like they deserve this and so much more,” Matthew said.

The next drive will be held January 17th through January 24th. For more information on drop off locations, or how you can help ‘Clothes for Joes’ click here.

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