HAMMONTON - Saint James Lutheran Church in Folsom recently donated more than $2,200 to the Disabled American Veterans Hammonton Chapter 66. They raised the funds last month during a Pulling for Veterans pulled pork and chicken dinner.

The fundraiser was so successful that church members are planning to make it an annual event. “People who attended said they can’t wait until next year. I was really thrilled to hear that,” said Jayne Carmen, fundraiser coordinator.

Church members attended the Nov. 2 meeting of the DAV. They shared a meal with members of Chapter 66 and then presented their donation.

“When we were talking about people we wanted to help, the veterans were an important group,” said Pastor Pam Werner of St. James Lutheran Church. “You are the unsung heroes, and we really appreciate all that you have done and do for our country.”

The church organized a blueberry sale earlier in the year to raise funds for the Pulling for Veterans fundraiser. When the time came to organize the dinner, the church received so much support from the local community that it could include the money raised during the blueberry sale in its donation to the DAV, said Werner.

“The donation really is a blessing for us,” said Nicholas Paoletti, commander of DAV Hammonton Chapter 66. The funds will help the post continue its mission of helping disabled veterans. “We want them to know we are here to work with them and help them,” continued Paoletti.

Glenn Crowder of Mullica is one of many veterans who received life-changing help from the DAV. The organization helped him with the process to receive his benefits, and now he helps other veterans in his role as a chapter service officer.

Werner said when church members came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser to support disabled veterans, they set a humble goal of $500. They never expected to raise four times their goal.

Veteran David Colofranson of Hammonton said he feels the most gratitude for his service when he sees people in the community reaching out to help veterans. “You guys really went out of the way. Obviously, you put the work in, and it shows,” he told members of St. James Lutheran. “This, to us, is very heartfelt because it gives us the encouragement to realize that we are appreciated even in the hard times.”

St. James Lutheran Church is holding a Christmas Mart fundraiser 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at the church. Proceeds from this sale, which includes crafts, baked goods and other items, will benefit Atlantic County Family Promise.

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