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August 15. 2014 6:45PM

Homeland Heroes to open "store" in Hudson


Staff from Nashua's 1-800-GOTJUNK franchise unloaded several truckloads of donated furnishings at the new Homeland Heroes “store” in Hudson on Thursday afternoon. Starting next month, the store will be open by appointment to allow struggling military families and veterans set up their civilian households. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)


 

HUDSON — An organization that’s helped hundreds of Granite State soldiers both home and abroad will soon set up shop in Hudson.

Located at 1 Wall St., the Homeland Heroes Foundation’s new store offers a one-stop free “shopping” experience for struggling military members, veterans and their families.

It’s been less than a year since Homeland Heroes was formed, but the organization’s two founders, Julie Weymouth and Kim McMahon, have volunteered their time to help others for much longer.

Weymouth, a Salem resident, said her mission to help military families began years ago when a client came into her jewelry shop.

“We got talking a bit,” Weymouth recalled. “Then I learned that she led a family readiness group for families of enlisted or deployed military members.”

After hearing about the 65 Cape Cod families struggling to make ends meet, Weymouth knew she had to help somehow.

“I got hooked on it,” she said. “I just saw this huge need and was touched by how grateful they were.”

Gradually, Weymouth shifted her focus to military families closer to home, and last fall, she joined forces with her friend, Kim McMahon.

McMahon, of Windham, said Homeland Heroes seemed like a natural progression for her, noting that she and her husband, state Rep. Charlie McMahon, have often loaned their vacation home in the Lakes Region to military families over the years.

Shortly after Homeland Heroes was formed, the organization held its first major event: a holiday toy drive for the children of struggling soldiers.

In January, Homeland Heroes sent nine boxes of goods to deployed soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We sent them tons of pillows and blankets,” Weymouth said. “People were just so generous about helping out. A local dentist gave us about 100 pounds of candy!”

These days, Homeland Heroes offers a variety of services on a case-by-case basis, including food assistance, help with financial planning and credit counseling, legal advice, family wellness issues and sending items to deployed military.

The organization holds various events throughout the year to raise awareness and solicit donations.

Funds from last February’s Winter Gala raised more than $10,000 for the charity. A portion of those funds were used to send eight military couples on a weekend getaway.

“Their marriages can suffer so greatly,” said Weymouth. “Sometimes when soldiers come home, they just don’t fit in anymore.”

Set to open Sept. 2, Hudson’s Homeland Heroes store will be open by appointment for military members, veterans and their families struggling to set up a civilian home.

The local organization will work with Veterans Affairs, Easter Seals and other area organizations to connect with those in need of assistance.

“It can be a delicate situation,” Weymouth said. “Some of them are very proud, and it’s sometimes hard to get them to accept help when they need it.”

Prior to this week, Weymouth and McMahon said they filled three storage units with gently used furniture and other household items.

On Thursday, a work crew from the Nashua franchise of 1-800-GOTJUNK pulled into the Hudson office park with several truckloads of tables, beds, dishes and other household goods.

Franchise owner Frank Makos donated an afternoon of service to the cause. Other local businesses have also come forward to lend a hand: Massina Carpeting of Salem is replacing the rugs in the 1900-square-foot store.

“It’s awesome how generous people have been,” McMahon said.

Weymouth said donations of furnishings and housewares in new to gently used condition are always welcome. For information, call 910-6948 or visit www.homelandheroesfoundation.org.

Updates on store hours and fundraisers will be posted on the Homeland Heroes Foundation Facebook page.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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