Holiday spirit: Filling the freezers of vets

Local News

COLES COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The holidays can be stressful enough, but for veterans, it can be even tougher.

It’s why one man decided to make it his mission to make the holiday season a little brighter for area veterans. Now, he’s given them some extra bucks.

Todd Ratliff knows the giving season falls in line with hunting season. So, when a local need came into his crosshairs, he fired off an idea.

“I put a message out on Facebook that said if any of the local hunters that were deer hunting would be interested in donating their deer meat to me, I would take it and see if I can get it processed and get it out to some of the local veterans.”

He says, even just a couple pounds of meat in the freezer can be enough to take some of the weight off their shoulders. It started as just an idea, then the owners of this shop said they’d add the meat to it. And then, before they knew it, the donations started rolling in.

“We’re like, ‘Wow! We got one! This is excellent! We’re off and running,’ and then it just kind of snowballed from there.”

Now, they’ve got a freezer full of deer meat and that’s not even all of it. They’ve already given some away the past few weeks.

“We’re really excited about the program. It’s got good traction.”

“I just go out to their front door and knock on their front door and say, ‘Some that knows you and cares about you has reached out to me.'”

Blake Leitch can say, from firsthand experience, it means a lot.

“Knowing that there’s been times we were gone for the holidays and we can make sure that they don’t go hungry during the holidays. That’s huge.”

Hundreds of pounds later, they’re amazed to see how it’s impacted veterans and grateful the community gave the idea a shot.

“At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do to take care of the community and take care of the veterans.”

Ratliff says they’re not just collecting deer meat. They’ll also take extra cattle or pigs and get that processed as well. So far, he’s taken the donations all across Central Illinois.

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