Deer Hunters Make Tradition of Giving Their Bounties to Veterans in Need

by Madison Miller
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With many people suffering to afford food, housing, and any other expenses, giving back is a powerful force in society right now. Hunters this season, some of which have done it years before as well, are giving deer meat from hunting trips to veterans in need.

Hunters Help Veterans

Shon Ellis and Steve Morse from Maine have been delivering their deer meat to veterans in need for the past three years. The two friends go hunting in Ohio, where they often are able to harvest three deer each season.

“The deer that we kill in Ohio, we’re never going to eat it all. Steve went out there this year and got, like, three deer and I got one. It’s too much meat, so we came up with the idea with just finding a good place for this venison to go and started brainstorming,” Ellis said.

They have so much meat from hunting each season they knew they wanted to put it to good use.

“We have a lot of hunting opportunities and Shon and I love to hunt. It’s our passion, and while we’re hunting and doing what we love, we’re able to help people along the way. A lot of people, they don’t have a lot of food or a lot of money to buy food, and, you know, you’re not allowed to sell venison, but you can give it away,” Morse said.

They receive input from Commander Tricia Thurston of American Legion Post 24 on which veterans need help the most at the time. They also receive donations of canned goods and bread that they donate as well.

Giving Out the ‘Freedom Box’

When Ellis and Morse have all their goods gathered, they assemble them in what they call “Freedom Boxes.” This neatly packed box with a bow contains frozen deer meat, a loaf of bread, two to three pounds of potatoes, canned goods, crackers, and other snacks.

Together, the two friends run Maine Hunters Helping Heroes. Both Ellis and Morse have connections to the military. Morse was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and Ellis had family that served.

Jamie Roy from Meats of Livermore helps out by cutting and processing the meat.

Both men said that the veterans always seem to be excited to get the box, just as much as they are to give them away. Some veterans even say they want to share the box with those they know who are more in need than them.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive it, but I’ve always told them that I’m so blessed and that if you hear of somebody that needs it more than I do, I can function without. I have family within the area that I can go and say ‘I need to sit with you for supper tonight’ if I don’t have anything, and there might be veterans that don’t have that,” Veteran Mike Wilson said.

Helping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Morse and Ellis are using their passion to help those who are going through hardship.

For those wanting to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several options. The first would be donating to any nonprofit that is responding to COVID-19. By donating funds, this could help support medical needs as well as organizations helping vulnerable areas.

Many former volunteers have had to stop their work due to being high-risk or other personal reasons. Therefore, if able, volunteering for organizations providing services could make a huge difference during this time. This could be anything from delivering food, making masks, grant writing, and even being a crisis hotline counselor.

Lastly, it is important to use platforms to share different ways to take action during COVID-19. This would mean sharing links to charities or nonprofits, as well as vital and factual information. The most important thing is following CDC guidelines, which include wearing a facial covering, maintaining six feet away from people, and limiting all gatherings.

H/T: Sun Journal

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