Veteran food delivery receives overwhelming community response

CARIBOU, Maine — Police escorted traffic as veterans lined up in vehicles nearly half a mile from the Caribou Lister-Knowlton VFW Post 9389 building to receive food boxes from 222 Cares, a Maine organization that supports veterans who are dealing with PTSD, addiction and mental health issues.

222 Cares President Robert Jones said this is the first time the organization has brought food boxes to The County, and that while 107 registered online beforehand, more than 350 showed up on May 14 to receive food.

Jones had brought 130 boxes of food, each of which contained supplies like peanut butter, canned goods and milk, and were meant to last roughly two weeks. Jones said he quickly learned that there was a far greater need for food in northern Maine than the online sign-up had indicated.

He said on May 15 that he is planning to make a return trip to The County soon, and is working to set up the food distribution at multiple locations so local veterans do not need to drive such long distances.

222 Cares President Robert Jones supplied more than 100 veterans with food boxes on May 14 at the Caribou VFW. Staff photo/Chris Bouchard

“We’re working on a plan to get back up there with a bigger supply, so people don’t have to drive up from Houlton or down from Caribou,” he said. The group is considering the former Loring Air Force Base as one location and Houlton as another.

Caribou VFW commander Roger Felix helped coordinate traffic on Thursday, and said the turnout was well beyond expectations.

“We have cars all the way down to Cary Medical Center, and that’s after we packed the entire parking lot,” he said at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday,

And while the distribution was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., Felix said cars started lining up behind the VFW building at 12:30 p.m.

Veterans interested in registering to receive food can do so by visiting the website and scrolling down to the “Feeding Veterans” link to fill out the form.

As of Friday morning, no dates have been set for the organization’s return to The County, but Jones said that an announcement will be made via the organization’s website and Facebook page as soon as he is able to set up delivery at the new locations.

In addition to Caribou, 222 Cares has distributed food in Machias, Topsham, Waterville and Lincoln.

Jones said he looks forward to returning to The County with a larger supply of food in the near future.

“I’m just having a great time delivering food to veterans,” he concluded. “I couldn’t be happier.”

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