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updated: 2/7/2013 6:26 PM

Coats For Vets drive nets $65,000 in donations for local veterans

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  • From left,  Robert Zengeler, Sr., Andrew Zengeler, Tom Zengeler and Allen Lynch.

    From left, Robert Zengeler, Sr., Andrew Zengeler, Tom Zengeler and Allen Lynch.
    John Coxon

John Coxon

Northbrook, IL, February 6, 2013: The results are in from a local drive to collect winter apparel for veterans, and this year's results were once again fantastic! More than 2,300 winter coats and jackets, along with dozens of gloves, scarves and other winter apparel were collected for local veterans. The "Coats for Vets" collection was spearheaded by Libertyville Rotary Sunrise in cooperation with Zengeler Cleaners' two Libertyville stores.

In recognition of their longstanding support for "Coats for Vets," the Zengeler family was presented with the Seven Seals Award, the highest civilian honor awarded by Veterans' organizations. The award was presented to Robert Zengeler, Sr., Tom Zengeler (President of Zengeler Cleaners) and Tom's son Andrew at the January 30th meeting of Libertyville Rotary Sunrise at Lambs Farm in Libertyville. Making the award even more special, it was presented by Allen Lynch, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient -- the military's highest honor.

Speaking on behalf of his family while accepting the Seven Seals Award, Tom Zengeler acknowledged there was widespread support of volunteers businesses, but most importantly from the support of our Rotary Club for the annual collection. "The success of the drive was due to the combined efforts of many individuals and companies," he stated. "With so many American veterans finding it difficult to find meaningful employment in today's economy, it was an easy decision for our family to get behind 'Coats for Vets.' We're honored and humbled to accept this award on behalf of everyone who donated to the cause."

Allen Lynch received the Medal of Honor following his service as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. After the war, Lynch settled in Gurnee, Illinois, and worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he advocated increased benefits for disabled veterans. He later served as chief of the Illinois Attorney General's Veterans Rights Bureau until his retirement in 2005. He currently volunteers at the Veteran's Assistance Commission of Lake County, located in Waukegan, Illinois.

While many of us take the basics of life for granted, food, shelter and clothing are often quite difficult to come by for out of work veterans. This is especially true for seasonal items, such as winter coats and jackets . . . which is why Libertyville Rotary Sunrise started this collection drive several years ago. Fortunately, support has been very strong and is continuing to grow every year.

Zengeler Cleaners' two Libertyville stores served as drop-off locations for the donations. After the items were collected, Zengeler Cleaners inspected, repaired as needed and cleaned every donated item. They also supported the effort by delivering the clothing. Due to the tremendous support for the collection drive, half of the items were delivered in time for Veterans Day on November 11th; the remainder delivered at a later date, allowing the drive to reach an even larger number of needy veterans.

A picture of the Zengeler family receiving the Seven Seals Award is enclosed. For more information about the annual Coats for Vets drive, please contact Tom Zengeler, President, at (847) 272-6550, ext. 14, or visit Zengeler Cleaners' website at Zengeler Cleaners' stores are located in Deerfield, Hubbard Woods, Northfield, Winnetka, Long Grove, two stores in Libertyville and the company's headquarters store in Northbrook. Zengeler Cleaners . . . America's First Family of Dry Cleaning™.