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Elizabeth Wood, director of the Randolph County Veterans Services office, stands in front of
a pantry stocked with food and toiletries to give to veterans in need.   Larry Penkava / Randolph Hub

Do you know about Randolph County Veterans Services?

To find out more about Randolph County Veterans Services, visit https://www.loc8nearme.com/north-carolina/asheboro/randolph-county-veterans-services/7135111/.

ASHEBORO — Needy veterans have a place to go for food, toiletries and clothing. They can also get help with their bills and housing costs.

The Randolph County Veterans Services office at 158 Worth Street in Asheboro, at the rear of the Register of Deeds office, is collecting items for the Veterans Exchange. 

Working in collaboration with Amvets, American Legion, the Veterans Council and others, Veterans Services now has a pantry with nonperishable food items, toiletries and winter clothes. Donations are accepted from anyone.

“We’re blessed to have people come in and donate,” said Elizabeth Wood, Veterans Services director.

“Uwharrie Charter Academy held a drive, Habitat had a drive and others bring in donations,” said Wood, who became director in September after serving for three years under her predecessor, Chad Gurley, who has taken a job in Guilford County.

Wood said her agency not only is looking for donated items but also wants to get the word out to veterans not only about the pantry but about the services they offer. 

The Veterans Exchange is particularly important now during the winter months. Wood said they have heard of a “large community” of veterans underneath a local interstate overpass. The pantry is focused on homeless and at-risk veterans, those needing financial assistance or facing the culture shock of getting back into civilian life.

Wood and Rita Honeycutt, an Air Force veteran and currently working as office assistant at Veterans Services, began the program soon after Wood became director. Wood estimated that they have given out some $3,000 worth of goods to veterans.

“Most of them need help with bills or housing,” she said. Many are referred to Veterans Services by family or friends.

Wood and Honeycutt ask that food donations be items that don’t need to be heated, ready-to-eat from the can or package. They do have quite a few canned foods, such as soups, vegetables, fruits and meats. Cans with pop-tops are especially good.

They handed out a list of suggested food items, including peanut butter and jelly, crackers, honey/syrup, pancake mix, vegetable oil, rice/lentils, dried pasta and beans, Ramen noodles, oatmeal, cocoa/coffee/tea, nuts/trail mix/beef jerky, applesauce/puddings/Jell-O, individually packaged snacks, bottled water/drinks and granola/protein bars. 

Toiletry items recommended include baby supplies, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, baby wipes, dish soap, laundry products, first-aid supplies, reusable containers, winter accessories and socks.

“We want to do a lot more with outreach,” Wood said. “A lot of veterans don’t know what is offered.”

For instance, Veterans Services officers can help with filing claims and assisting with health care benefits, education, home loans and even how to appeal claims that have been denied.

Honeycutt said the office has been “working on fund-raising projects.” One project is to send a couple of veterans on a Flight of Honor to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C. She explained that each veteran has a “battle buddy” to accompany them on the flight. While it’s free to the veteran, the buddy is expected to pay for both their plane tickets, about $600 apiece.

The fund-raising would raise money for those tickets, Honeycutt said. They’re looking at doing a silent auction and wine tasting and a bake sale at Tractor Supply in Thomasville. Those plans have yet to be finalized.

Another service at Veterans Services is the use of a computer, which a veteran can access to write a resume or other document. The computer can also be used for a telehealth visit or a Zoom meeting.

Randolph County Veterans Services is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m, except holidays. The staff will accommodate veterans after hours with prior notice.

To access services, the veteran should bring a driver’s license denoting military service, a VA health card, a DD14, a Department of Defense-issued military/dependents ID or CAC card.

Once verified as a veteran, there are no questions asked and you can take what you need from the pantry. Food, toiletries, clothing and more are available to veterans and their families.