Matt O'Shea

19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea

Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, Jewel-Osco officials and community leaders on May 23 to launch Operation Help-A-Hero, a household donation drive benefiting homeless veterans.

The fourth annual drive will run through July 15 at all Chicago Jewel-Osco stores, providing a dedicated drop-off for hygiene products and other goods so that residents can assist formerly homeless veterans who are moving to permanent housing.

“Service members and their families contribute to our country in ways those of us who have never worn the uniform can hardly imagine,” Lightfoot said. “I commend Ald. O’Shea and the team at Jewel-Osco for supporting Chicago’s veterans and military families through Operation Help-A-Hero. We share a responsibility to Chicago veterans not just on Memorial Day, but every day.”

Residents are encouraged to donate one or more basic household items, including paper towels, toothpaste and toothbrushes at one of over 100 designated drop-off locations in the city. All 50 aldermanic offices, Jewel-Osco city locations and select Chicago Park District locations will have donation boxes to accept store-bought household items for veterans transitioning out of homelessness.

The program was launched to ensure that all veterans can access critical support, including basic personal or household necessities that are needed to live independently. Since it was first launched, Operation Help-A-Hero has garnered hundreds of thousands of donations for homeless veterans. The 19th Ward community has taken part in Operation Help-A-Hero each year, with O’Shea working to expand the program throughout the city.

“I’m proud that the 19th Ward community has embraced Operation Help-A-Hero and has been a leader in the city in trying to help our homeless veterans,” O’Shea said.

“This program is a simple way for the community to help those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

On any given night, over 500 homeless veterans are living on the streets of Chicago. The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services has helped more than 5,000 homeless veterans find permanent housing; however, many still lack the basic household items needed to live independently.

“Jewel-Osco has long supported our veterans through fundraising and store support campaigns,” said Paul Gossett, president of Jewel-Osco. ”We are proud to support Operation Help-A-Hero again this year, a program that delivers support to the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our country.”

People are encouraged to donate from the following high-demand items:

•Personal hygiene: bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, combs, hair brushes, nail clippers, toothpaste and toothbrushes

•Kitchen and cleaning: plastic kitchen trash cans, window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, dishwashing liquid, dish cloths, sponges, mops, buckets, brooms, dustpans and paper towels

•Bathroom and miscellaneous: shower curtains, toilet paper, plungers, toilet brushes, toilet-bowl cleaner, bath towels, wash cloths, smoke detectors with batteries, flashlights with batteries, garbage bags, laundry baskets, clothes hampers and laundry detergent

Operation Help-A-Hero is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the well-being and care of American military personnel.

Its programs support military units and families as they prepare for separation, while they endure the challenges of deployment and as they transition back to the United States.

Every dollar donated to Operation Help-A-Hero is used to serve the military community, and every project is based on real needs.

All donations will be collected by Military Outreach USA and will be distributed by the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Maywood.

A complete list of drop-off locations is available at cityofchicago.org.