Chapter 77 of Tonawanda, NY hosted their fifth annual Come Fly a Kite for Homeless Veterans fundraiser in early June.
The event provided free kites to visitors, an auction and a basket raffle with proceeds and other donations going to the chapter’s programs for homeless veterans. Notable raffle prize items include signed Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres memorabilia.
The veteran art department at the Attica Correctional Facility hand-painted nearly 100 kites as raffle prizes. Themes from the incarcerated veterans’ art included superheroes, religious imagery, motorcycles, nature landscapes, and other vivid portrayals. The veterans at the Attica Correctional Facility contribute art work to the kiting event every year.
Veteran service providers were also available to veterans and their families in attendance. Partners included Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition, VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York and VETSHERD which all provide housing resources and supportive services to veterans.
The Great Lakes Kitefliers Society of Western New York, who also hold events in the same park venue, were present to assist attendees with kite flying, and to launch some of their own kites.
Chapter 77 member and brainchild of the Come Fly a Kite event, Jack Michel, developed the fundraiser after visiting Bermuda with his wife during a holiday in which many people of the community participated in flying kites. He thought the concept would work well as a fundraiser for veterans in the Western New York community.
The event has steadily grown over the past four years, amassing over $40,000 for homeless veterans, and with participants indulging in food and fun for the whole family.