Skills Can Be Donated to Help Troops

KANSAS CITY, MO. Since it began in June 2004, the Unmet Needs Program has given money to more than 200 American military families facing financial hardships due to deployment. Until now, donations have been limited to cash. Sponsored by Vermont American and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the program now has a feature that allows tradesmen to donate their skills. During the International Builders Show

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Since it began in June 2004, the Unmet Needs Program has given money to more than 200 American military families facing financial hardships due to deployment.

Until now, donations have been limited to cash. Sponsored by Vermont American and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the program now has a feature that allows tradesmen to donate their skills.

During the International Builders Show in January in Orlando, Fla., Vermont American unveiled the Donate-A-Skill initiative. Using an automated electronic kiosk located in its booth, the producer of drill bits and saw blades gave plumbers, builders, carpenters, electricians and other tradesmen the opportunity to volunteer their skills in order to assist program recipients in their local communities. The kiosk, linked directly to the program’s Website, www.unmetneeds.com, was used to add volunteers to a centralized national skill bank that matches volunteers with suitable projects in their areas.

During the show, more than 225 people registered for the program. Since then, more than 100 others have signed up online using the Website donation page.

“Many of the requests we receive each day involve home or car repair projects,” said Rufus Forrest, senior administrator for the Unmet Needs Program at the VFW Foundation. “Being able to tap into a national database of skilled and screened volunteers enables us to stretch program funding and helps families get help quickly by eliminating the need to find, screen and hire new contractors for each individual project.”

The Donate-A-Skill registration kiosk is accompanying the Vermont American team to home building and repair trade shows nationwide throughout 2005. The goal is to eventually generate a database of thousands of qualified volunteers who can be accessed and mobilized in support of military families across the country, the company said.

Vermont American established the program with the VFW with a five-year, $1.25 million contribution from Vermont American Power Tool Accessories. Private donations can be sent to the Unmet Needs Program, VFW Foundation, 406 W. 34th St., Room 514, Kansas City, MO 64111.

Families in need can visit www.unmetneeds.com or call 866/789-6333 to request assistance.