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Greenwood veterans memorial donations slow

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Organizers trying to build a Greenwood memorial that would honor veterans, police and firefighters, recently sent out 680 letters seeking donations, but only one was returned.

Greenwood Veterans Memorial Inc., a nonprofit group, has raised about $45,000 in three years. That amount equals about one-third of the costs to build the first phase of the memorial, which will be located in Freedom Park on ground donated by the city.

The total cost of the memorial will be $500,000 over three phases. The first phase would include building a monument that will serve as the centerpiece of the memorial, accentuated with lighting and flag poles.

Persuading people to donate to what is now an empty field hasn’t been easy, said Paul Totten, an 89-year-old World War II veteran who is active in helping raise money for the memorial.

“If we could get one large amount we could get the main monument put up,” Totten said. “Then I think we would generate more interest with having something concrete to show people.”

The organization will soon begin visiting locally owned businesses in the city and county, asking for donations in person during the next several months. A grant writer was hired to help find additional funding, such as a potential grant from the Lilly Endowment.

“If we had started this back in 2001 after the World Trade Center situation, I think we probably would have had the money within a year,” said Ken VanOsdol, president of Greenwood Veterans Memorial Inc. “The American people were really enthused with the country and those serving. The economy over the last several years has also hurt because people have had to cut back on their donations.”

Greenwood Veterans Memorial Inc., which previously worked with Warrior’s Hope before breaking away to avoid confusion, already has purchased a bronze eagle that will sit atop the monument.

VanOsdol envisions the memorial becoming an educational tool for area schools.

“Field trips could be available for elementary schools and it could give them a taste of what other people have given for their neighborhoods, cities and country. The military defends us as far as our country goes, but our police and firefighters defend us in our towns and communities,” he said.

Totten recently turned down a chance to participate in the Honor Flight program, which flies World War II veterans to Washington D.C., but wishes he could visit a memorial dedicated to his generation.

“I can’t really travel because of lung problems,” Totten said. “There are not too many World War II veterans in our community and not all of them can travel. I think it would be nice to have a memorial in our community that they could visit more easily.”

How To Help

Greenwood Veterans Memorial Inc. is accepting donations to build a memorial that would honor veterans, police, and firefighters. Contributions can be made in the following ways:

By mail: Checks can be made out to Greenwood Veterans Memorial Inc., and sent to Heartland Community Bank, 151 Marlin Drive, Greenwood, IN 46142

By credit card: Go to warriorshope.com/vetmem/ways-to-donate to find a credit card form and mailing address

By phone: 416-7766

Questions can be directed to the phone number listed above or via email at vetmemfreedompark@gmail.com

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