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Local nonprofit gives Christmas for veterans

A local nonprofit is working to ensure a Merry Christmas for veterans in nursing homes across eastern North Carolina.

For the past five years, Magoo’s Christmas 4 Veterans has collected money to send Christmas gifts to the men and women of the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Kinston. This year, the group will expand its efforts to cover the State Veterans Home in Fayetteville, and is seeking to also provide for 14 local veterans in nursing homes in Beaufort County.

The charity was organized by N.C. Representative Keith Kidwell and his wife, Vicki, a few years back and is named in honor of Robert “Magoo” Chilar, Vicki Kidwell’s father and a veteran of the Korean War.

“Both Vicki and I both believe that we, the American citizens, owe a debt to the veterans we can never repay,” Kidwell said. “This is just a small way we can show our appreciation for all the sacrifices they have made for us.”

Two years ago, the group officially registered as a 501(c)3 with the Internal Revenue Service, making all donations to the effort tax deductible. So far, the nonprofit has $2,700 in the bank from summer fundraising, with an additional $2,500 grant pledged by Nutrien. If they can hit the $10,000 mark by Dec. 10, Magoo’s will be able to expand to serve a total of 265 veterans.

“Our vision is, possibly by next year, to add the third, and possibly fourth, veterans homes in North Carolina,” Kidwell said. “For this year, we’re trying to hit that $10,000 mark.”

Kidwell says that all the funds donated to the charity go directly to the veterans, buying everything from gifts to snacks and drinks for the canteen, with all administrative costs paid out of his pocket. In addition to funds to purchase gifts, Magoo’s is also seeking donations of new socks, pajamas, blankets, bedroom slippers and T-shirts. Any items not used this year will be stored for next year. Books, DVDs, puzzles and games are also popular items.

“We go down and actually ask the veterans to tell us what they want and try to deliver those things to them,” Kidwell said. “We had requests last year for socks, underwear, T-shirts. Those were the most popular items. Probably 85 to 90% of the vets asked for that.”

To donate to Magoo’s Christmas 4 Veterans, visit @magooschristmas4veterans on Facebook or mail a check to the organization at 2013 W. 15th St., Washington, NC 27889. Volunteers are also needed to help wrap gifts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 9-10 at the same address. Those shopping on Amazon can also select Magoo’s as a favorite nonprofit through AmazonSmile, with the organization receiving a share from all purchases.