Metro-East Living

Veterans serve others, even after time in military has ended

Navy veteran Joshua Hughes, of Staunton, a member of the St. Louis Red Coats, delivers a donation of gently used clothing for families in need to Cindy Drum, executive director of Contact Ministries in Springfield, Ill. The Red Coats is a veterans group with members who also are fans of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Navy veteran Joshua Hughes, of Staunton, a member of the St. Louis Red Coats, delivers a donation of gently used clothing for families in need to Cindy Drum, executive director of Contact Ministries in Springfield, Ill. The Red Coats is a veterans group with members who also are fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. Provided

Some military folks never stop serving others.

The St. Louis Red Coats are like that, collecting clothing to distribute to charities in Illinois and Missouri. The group’s name has a story behind it.

Joshua Hughes, 38, of Staunton, is a Navy veteran and a founder of the Red Coats, a small group of mostly Army veterans and families. The seven members met at a St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warmup

“I just happened to sit down next to this group of guys and started chit-chatting about going to opening day in red suits, and stuff and it kind of blew up from there,” Joshua said. “We wanted to do some good with this.”

They pay homage to the “Cardinal way” by helping local communities with their RedCoats4KidsCoats drive. Joshua is the sole member from Illinois and came up with the idea to start the coat collection. The others live in Missouri, from St. Louis to Springfield, Mo. Joshua represents the group from Springfield, Ill., to St. Louis.

The Red Coats in late October donated more than 70 coats and about several large bags of clothing it had collected to Contact Ministries in Springfield, Ill., and Haven of Grace in St. Louis.

“We will try to pick two smaller organizations like that every year just to kind of spread the wealth,” Joshua said.

Cindy Drum, executive director at Contact Ministries, said all the clothing will go into the nonprofit group’s “boutique,” where “everything is handed out free.”

The Red Coats is currently collecting gently used clothing, including adult and children’s coats, at several Illinois locations, including Bill’s IGA and Dr. Thomas Cioni’s dentist office in Staunton; Blake Schrumpf State Farm in Highland; Collector’s Corner in Fairview Heights; and RP Lumber locations in the area. This collection runs through Nov. 30. Look for boxes labeled Red Coats for Kids Coats.

Learn more about the Red Coats on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cardinalsredcoats/ or on Twitter at @STLRedCoats.

Want to attend a Veterans Day ceremony or event honoring veterans this week? Here are some choices in the metro-east.

Honor veterans

▪  Salute to Freedom band concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, on the campus of McKendree University, Lebanon. Free.

▪  Veterans Day service and light refreshments at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the VFW Caseyville Post No. 1117, 419 N. Long St.

▪  Spaghetti Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Main Street Community Center, at 1003 N. Main Street, Edwardsville. Lunch is free for veterans and $5 for all others. RSVP required by calling 618-656-0300 or emailing info@mainstcc.org.

▪  O’Fallon Veterans Day program at 11 a.m. Friday at the Veterans’ Monument at 737 E. Wesley Drive, O’Fallon. In inclement weather, it will be at the First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, 1111 E. Highway 50. The names of 29 newly inscribed veterans will be introduced at the program.

▪  Veterans Day parade at 2 p.m. Friday, starting at the O’Fallon Community Park and proceeding down Park Street, turning west onto Third Street, North onto Lincoln Avenue and West onto First Street. Parade ends at VFW Post 805.

▪  Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday at the American Legion Hall at 200 S. Fifth St., Dupo.

▪ East St. Louis VFW Post 3480 will hold a Veterans Day program at 11 a.m. Friday in Lincoln Park, 1601 Piggott Ave., East St. Louis.

For veterans and their families

▪  Free admission to the football game between the McKendree Bearcats and the Truman State University Bulldogs at 1 p.m. Saturday at Leemon Field in Lebanon for active duty and military veterans with an ID.

▪  Conference for military families at Faith Family Church, 704 N. Green Mount Road in Shiloh, starting with a movie called “Thank You For Your Service” at 6 p.m. Friday. The No Family Left Behind Behavioral Health Conference and Connection Fair continues on Saturday and Sunday. Conference registration is $10, call 618-277-0232. Sponsored by Allsup; scholarships are available.

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