Homeless Heroes Stocking Project Continuing to Serve Veterans for Sixth Year

Posted on 11/14/22 7:00 AM

For the sixth year in a row, students in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Rho Tau Chi military service fraternity are committed to helping homeless veterans in Indiana County and western Pennsylvania through the Homeless Heroes Holiday Stocking Project.

The project provides toiletries and other necessities to homeless veterans during the holidays; the toiletries are “packaged” in Christmas stockings.

Rho Tau Chi’s 24 members are actively collecting donations for the project.

Items being sought include shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, plastic travel toothbrush holders, washcloths, individually wrapped bars of soap, plastic soap holders, $10 gift cards to Walmart or Giant Eagle, crew socks, razors, gloves and winter hats, 17- to 19-inch stockings, drawstring backpacks, and large cardboard boxes to use as donation boxes for local businesses.

Donations can be dropped off at the IUP University Police office in University Towers (850 Maple Street); the office is open 24 hours a day, every day.

Monetary donations can also be made through Paypal at VLPHomelessHeroes@gmail.com or through Venmo @HomelessHeroes-StockingProject.

Members of the community are also invited to join the IUP students on November 27 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex for a holiday “stocking stuffing” party. Holiday cookies and other refreshments, donated by local businesses including Roseann’s and Aramark, will be part of the event. A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus is also scheduled, with a children’s craft area.

Riley David, a medical imaging major from Mansfield, is president of Rho Tau Chi and leading the project. David, daughter of Krista and Bill David, is a 2020 graduate of North Penn Mansfield Junior Senior High School. In addition to her membership in ROTC and Rho Tau Chi, she is active with IUP’s Haven Project for domestic violence education and survivor support and participates in intramural volleyball and IUP blood drives.

“I joined Rho Tau Chi because I had a passion for community service, I got involved in my freshman year,” she said.

Annually, the group collects enough supplies to fill about 2,500 stockings; this year, the students hope to double that amount with a goal of 5,000 stockings.

“Donations are really coming in strong, but we can always use more,” she said. “It’s a good thing to worry about running out of stockings!”

For the past five years, the stocking assembly has been in IUP’s Pierce Hall, home to the IUP Department of Military Science. This year, the students are planning a “bigger and more festive” event and moved to the Kovalchick Complex to allow for more space and a true holiday event, she said.

The stockings, once filled, are distributed to residents of the Indiana County Veteran’s Parsonage and to the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowships and Veteran’s Home in Pittsburgh.

For more information, persons may contact Riley David at ynrbc@iup.edu.