Kent student starts charity to help homeless veteransGiving to those who gave

Collection drive set Saturday at United Church of Christ

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

Last year, a Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent student decided to kick start a new local charity with the aim to give local homeless veterans positive holiday season.

The charity drive, Giving to Those Who Gave, wound up exceeding the expectations of John Ryan, the charity's founder, a Kent resident and now a Kent State University freshman, and he's working to pull it off again this season.

Ryan said Giving to Those Who Gave collected enough items in one day last year to fill a truck bed and two cars, which were donated to the Freedom House in Kent, a homeless shelter for military veterans.

"Every time I'd turn around, another person would be coming in to drop off item," Ryan said, on the support the donation drive received last year.

The donation drive date this year is set Saturday in the fellowship hall of the First United Church of Christ in Kent, at 1400 E. Main St., near the intersection with Horning Road. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Ryan and volunteers will take any donation that comes through the door, from blankets, canned food, personal hygiene items and more.

"Freedom House has said that coffee and filters are always needed," Ryan said, adding that entertainment gift cards to movie theaters and other locations go a long way, as the veterans aren't able to get out of the house much.

The idea for the charity drive was originally proposed by Ryan as his Eagle Scout project, but was denied because the Scouts prefer projects that last for many years.

Nevertheless, Ryan moved forward on the idea on his own.

"I wanted to do something where I knew for sure where it was going and I wanted to keep it local," he said. "Freedom House is in Kent, they're homeless veterans, and who better to help during the holiday season than the people who fought for us to be here."

Ryan has set up a website, http://givingtothosewhogave.wix.com/gttwg, to spread the word about the donation drive.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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