MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All season long, WCCO’s “Home for the Holidays” shines a light on the problem of homelessness among our veterans, who have sacrificed so much.

We joined the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) in giving just a little back. MACV helped us put together a special event for service members at Target Field in Minneapolis, where a warm meal and warm smiles lifted spirits.

“No one chooses to be homeless,” MACV’s Kevin Olson said. “Homelessness is caused by any number of societal things that can happen to anybody.”

Individual circumstances weren’t a factor at WCCO’s Home for the Holidays at Target Field — it was all about serving those who served.

“Veterans in particular are very independent, and they want to solve their own problems,” Olson said. “So by bringing them together in a military context — a ‘stand down’ if you will — that provides the context so that our service members, our veterans, can get the assistance that they need.”

Everything from free clothing for job interviews to legal advice was available. WCCO’s Reg Chapman — himself a veteran — says it’s this type of event that makes Minnesota stand out.

“Minnesota actually seeks out veterans to find them the help and resources,” he said. “These veterans have earned this by serving honorably, and being discharged honorably.”

A performance by local musician Kat Perkins accompanied a meal cooked by chefs for the Minnesota Twins, served with a side of Twins great Rod Carew.

“My goal today is to say hello to the guys, and let them know I was a Marine,” he said. “And just put a smile on their faces. These gentlemen that served overseas in the wars, you know, kept us free.”

It’s an event that Olson hopes will endure.

“By helping our veterans, we not only help that person but, I can tell you from personal experience — having had a brother that was 26-years homeless and a military veteran — it helps society as a whole,” he said.

You can support MACV programs by making a donation right now — just text MACV to 41444, or donate online.

We also need your help to finish decorating the WCCO Community Tree. Join the families who have already sent us these beautiful ornaments. The trimmed tree will be presented to a military family living in a transitional home next week.

If you’d like to help, go to wcco.com/ornament.

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