COVINGTON, Ky. — A Northern Kentucky nonprofit benefiting veterans and active-duty military is taking what's left over from donations throughout the year for a worthy cause: giving two active service members flights home for the holidays.
2020 has been a busy year for The Barracks Project and its founder, Felicia Huesman, who said the Covington-based organization has done “more this year than we have any year, by a long shot.”
Since 2016, their goal has been to help as many veterans and those who are serving as they can, whether that's providing temporary housing for 90 days, adopting eight families, providing gifts this holiday season, or offering emergency financial assistance and care packages from home to deployed troops. The nonprofit is also helping fix up a Spring Grove home, which will go mortgage-free to a veteran.
"Even if we walk away tonight with a crisp $20 bill, I know sometime next week that twenty bucks is going out into our veterans community," she told WCPO at fundraiser in July.
When WCPO caught up with Huesman on Friday, she said this holiday season, they're planning to bring home one step closer to two service members.
"Fortunately, when you're a nonprofit, it's easy to have residual money,” Huesman said. “We're not helping anyone with a savings account."
That’s why they’re using the donations for plane tickets, instead.
"I don't know what better way to make someone feel over-the-top, as a special, appreciated human being serving our country, than saying, ‘Hey hop on an airplane and go home. Don't worry about it. We've got you covered.’"
One of the service members getting a holiday homecoming has served on the USS Green Bay in Japan for years. With the help of the Barracks Project, he will be heading back to Maryland for the first time since he enlisted.
“It'll be a huge surprise for not only him, but his family,” Huesman said.
The other, serving stateside in Washington, gets to fly home to Florida. Both will stay for two weeks at home before flying back to quarantine and return to base, Huesman said.
Both are ready for a reunion, and Huesman, a military spouse herself, knows firsthand how special holidays are for those who serve and their families.
"I would've given my own last penny to make this happen for someone,” she said. “The fact we were able to rally as a community, this is what we're doing with what's left over from volunteers."
For more information, to donate or volunteer, visit www.thebarracksproject.org.