Elgin funeral home collecting valentines for veterans
An Elgin funeral home is trying to make Valentine's Day a little rosier for area veterans.
Symonds-Madison Funeral Home's Operation LOVE Network is hosting a Valentines for Vets drive through Thursday. Community members are invited to drop off handmade and store-bought valentines for local veterans.
The valentines will be delivered this weekend to local veterans service organizations, nursing homes, hospitals and senior living facilities.
"The Elgin community cares so much about our veterans, and Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show that love," said Joy Symonds, owner and director of community engagement at Symonds-Madison.
During business hours, valentines can be dropped off in the special mailbox in the lobby of the funeral home, at 305 Park St. Valentines delivered after hours can be placed in the mail slot.
Symonds launched Operation LOVE Network after the home hosted a funeral last year for "unclaimed" veteran John James Murphy. The event drew so much public attention that "we wanted to find a way to connect all these people who care about veterans with opportunities to serve," Symonds said.
The funeral home has conducted several unclaimed veteran funerals, but Symonds wanted to find ways to help living veterans as well.
"We're happy to do what we can do, but at that point they're already gone," she said. "We wanted to do something to let (veterans) know they're appreciated and connect with them while they're still with us."
The valentine drive follows Operation LOVE's first "Adopt-a-Veteran" gift drive in December, when volunteers delivered Christmas gifts to more than 50 local veterans. LOVE is an acronym for Love our Veterans Elgin.
Future plans include helping build a veteran section of a memorial garden at a local nursing home and a Memorial Day event to complement whatever the city of Elgin does.
If you know a veteran who would appreciate receiving a valentine, Symonds can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 741-1128 to arrange delivery.