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Student Veterans Association receives grant from The Home Depot Foundation

The University of North Georgia's Student Veterans Association used a portion of grant money received from The Home Depot Foundation to help renovate an area homeless shelter for veterans.

The Student Veterans Association (SVA) at the University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus recently received a $5,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation to help local veterans in need.

The grant was used to update the Military Resource Center on the Gainesville Campus and install a wheelchair ramp for a veteran in Marietta, Ga. The student group also combined efforts with the Northeast Georgia Homeless Veterans Shelter in Winder, Ga., which also received a grant from The Home Depot Foundation, to make significant renovations to that facility.

Dr. Vincent Ramsey, a lecturer of health and wellness at UNG and a faculty adviser to SVA, felt the project was extremely successful.

"It is truly rewarding to help our comrades-in-arms in times of need and we hope to continue providing much-needed services to our local veteran population," Ramsey said. "As a veteran myself, it is an honor and privilege to be able to assist the men and women who have sacrificed so much to ensure our liberties and freedoms that we take for granted."

Ramsey said the shelter was chosen because of its proximity to a number of veterans in need of adequate living conditions.

"The shelter houses approximately 30 veterans who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves without a permanent residence, Ramsey said. "Many of these individuals are combat veterans who have difficulty reintegrating to civilian life and may have one or more disabilities. This facility offers homeless veterans a safe environment in which to stay until they are able to find gainful employment and secure their own residence."

Renovations included installing laminate flooring in the shelter's downstairs living area and replacing the cabinetry, countertops, sink, dishwasher and microwave oven in the kitchen. In addition, new flooring was installed in the main entry and stairwell of the building. The project was designed and carried out by a volunteer group of associates from The Home Depot store in Flowery Branch, Ga.,.

"The Home Depot Foundation is committed to ensuring that every veteran has a safe place to call home," said Kelly Caffarelli, President of The Home Depot Foundation. "We are proud to work with the Student Veterans Association at the University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus to help local veterans in need as part of our efforts to give back to those men and women who have so bravely served our country."

A refrigerator and microwave were purchased for the Military Resource Center, which serves some 40 student veterans on UNG's Gainesville Campus; a similar resource for veterans also is located on the university's Dahlonega Campus. Both center are study and resource areas that provide a quiet place for student veterans to study and share camaraderie.

The group's final project was building a wheelchair ramp at the home of a disabled Vietnam-era veteran, who served in combat as a Navy SEAL. The ramp was constructed by  volunteer builder AJ Jefferson.

SVA collaborated with several groups on the project, including Change4Georgia, the Northeast Georgia Homeless Veterans Shelter, Disabled American Veterans, and VetBuds.

The SVA is an active group that holds many events to help local veterans. In February, the group held a food drive that raised more than 300 pounds of food. A car show in April raised more than $1,000 along with donations of toys and food for veterans and their families.

With about 15,000 students, UNG is the state's seventh-largest public university and offers more than 100 programs of study, including certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and professional doctoral programs. UNG is designated as a state leadership institution in the University System of Georgia and as The Military College of Georgia.

The Home Depot Foundation is dedicated to improving the homes of U.S. military veterans through financial and volunteer resources to help nonprofit organizations. The Foundation has committed $80 million to these efforts over five years.  Since its formation in 2002, The Home Depot Foundation has granted more than $340 million to nonprofit organizations improving homes and lives in local communities.

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