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Group Searching For Venue For Veterans Vendor Fair

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Group Searching For Venue For Veterans Vendor Fair

Finding a venue and nailing down a date are the only remaining steps in Operation United Hope green lighting its second annual Veterans Vendor Fair.

Operation United Hope President Winn Koehler said renting out an expensive space forces the organization to charge veterans to participate, which many struggle to afford. She said the goal is to allow veterans to showcase their talents and sell their products without an upfront charge.

“Doing these crafts is not only something they do as a hobby, but it’s something they do for fun,” Koehler said. “It’s also something that many of them find therapeutic, so these are all winning situations and so we just want to help support them.”

Koehler said she has considered holding the event in the Operation United Hope parking lot, but many of the senior veterans struggle to work outside. She said some 30 vendors participated last year and she expects the turnout this year to be even bigger. Koehler said once a space with enough room for that many people is identified, a date and time will be set.

“It’s just something that just gives them the space and the time to kind of get out of their own head sometimes and just not think about everything going on around them or past things,” Koehler said. “It just lets them unwind.”

Koehler said woodworking and painting were two of the most common hobbies showcased by the veterans at last year’s event. She said one veteran widdles birdhouses, while another carves canes, but all of the veterans that have been involved so far have showcased great talent and produced work shoppers should be excited to buy.

“We just want to help support them not only in fundraising for themselves, but also in getting out there and talking to other veterans and meeting other folks in our community and our community connecting them with,” Koehler said. “And hopefully, grow and expand their business and expanding their life.”

Koehler said money spent on a venue comes directly from the funds used to stock Operation United Hope’s food pantry. She said she hopes to find an affordable space soon and start inviting veterans to strengthen their relationships with the community, work toward financial security, and share their passion-projects with the world.


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