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Bong Center brings cheer to Silver Bay veterans home

For the past 12 years, the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, Wis., has been supporting the Minnesota Veterans Home of Silver Bay during the holiday season.

The Bong Center, along with the Bong Book Club, Richard I. Bong American Legion Auxiliary and the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post 435, are once again collecting donations to help out the veterans in Silver Bay at the veterans home.

This program was started by Bong Center volunteer Hope Swenson as an outreach program for the Bong Book Club.

"It has continued to be well received by the community," Swenson said in a press release.

Veterans Home volunteer program administrator Ward Wallin said been very successful and is very much appreciated by the veterans in Silver Bay.

"It's pretty awesome because they don't look at us as just a Minnesota facility, they look at us as a veteran is a veteran," Wallin said. "They've been great supporter of us over the years and we're very grateful."

When Scott Markle became the president of the Bong Book Club Swenson, who is in her 90s, asked him to help out. He said the program has just blossomed since she started it.

"It's an awesome program and it just feels good when you see that box get filled up," Markle said.

Markle is a veteran himself, a member of the American Legion Post 435 and served more than 20 years in the Air Force, so he said he does anything he can for other veterans.

"In the spirit of giving to our veterans, who gave so much for us, it's only right that we can help them in whatever way we can," Markle said "It's because of their sacrifices that we are even able to have a veterans home to give gifts to. We need to take care of our veterans."

The Bong Center collects unwrapped gifts that include items such as personal care supplies, blankets, socks, T-shirts, sweatpants, stationery items, stamps, books, magazines, DVDs and even Minnesota Vikings apparel.

"(The Veterans Home) is a wonderful place and it's been a great association and a great thing we do every year," Markle said.

Donations are being accepted at the Bong Center, 305 Harbor View Parkway, Superior, WI 54880 through Dec. 18.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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