TAMPA, Fla. — On the third Thursday of every month, a special dinner takes place in Tampa to help support our veterans who have been wounded or injured and their families.
It's put together by Operation Helping Hand and it's a chance for anyone in the community to give back to our veterans who have given so much.
Operation Helping Hand started in 2004 when a doctor at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital noticed a woman and small child sleeping in their car.
"So he asked if she was there all night and she said yeah my husband's in the hospital and we just don't have the money to do anything else."
Jim Griffin is the current Chairman of Operation Helping Hand. He and Tom South, both military veterans themselves, have been with the organization since it began, with a mission to ease minds when they can't ease the pain.
"They're already suffering from their wounds and injuries. Their families suffer with them and often it causes additional expenses that they hadn't planned on."
Griffin says they eventually started hosting monthly dinners to get the wounded veterans out of their rooms to socialize.
"We started out the dinners with potluck dinners where the wives brought in food and we gradually increased it and now we have dinner sponsors that don't come out of our treasury, which incidentally, 95.5% of everything we take in goes directly to the patients."
South says that money is so important. "Sometimes they need financial assistance, hotel accommodations, rental cars, gas for their cars, whatever it is they need while they're here, we try to provide it as best we can."
South says the monthly dinners are truly a special time to recognize those who have sacrificed so much. "Letting them know that they're not alone, they're honored, and makes it, we hope a better day for them."
Griffin says you'll have a great time if you go. "It's just a very enjoyable, meaningful experience and knows what we're there for, to honor the wounded and injured and their families."
Since it started, Operation Helping Hand has assisted more than 3,000 wounded veterans. Again, those dinners are on the third Thursday of the month at the Embassy Suites by USF. Space is limited to 100 people. Click here for more information on how you can help.