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High school football team, local festival aim to help homeless veterans

Chippewa Falls, WI (WQOW) - When you turn in for the night, keep the number 76,000 in mind. That's how many veterans each night go without a roof to sleep under, as the sun goes down.


This weekend there are two chances to give back to local men and women who served our country and have now fallen on hard times.


According to organizations that help veterans, as many as 50 vets in Eau Claire and 40 in Chippewa Falls do not have a place to call home. Two local events this weekend are aimed at helping.


"This small way is a way that we can help and show our respect for what they've done," said Chuck Raykovich, Chippewa Falls Head Coach.


Win or lose, fans attending Chippewa Falls High School home games this season will have a opportunity to do more than just watch football. They have a chance to help nearly 100 homeless veterans in our area.


"The facts are there. And it just blows me away that these people can sacrifice life and limb for our freedom and they come back here and they don't have a place to live. It just blows me away, and we've got to help them, that's all there is to it," Raykovich added.


The school will collect sleeping bags, quilts, and clothing items as donations.


"This is everybody, and not just Chippewa people. We have four home games left, we have Hudson tonight, we've got Memorial next week, and every home game we're going to have that trailer out there and anybody that wants to drop off items is free to do so," said Raykovich.


The effort to help local vets continues on Saturday, when the band Rosewater takes the stage for a unique performance at the third annual Hogs and Hops festival in Eau Claire.


"We have people come dressed up as if they're heading to a wedding reception, and in this case it's a shotgun wedding reception. We ask them to be ready to dance, and we also ask them to bring wedding gifts which in this case are items for the homeless vets," said Darrell Marrier of Rosewater.


Some of the donations go to local shelters, and some to the help a vet assistance program based out of Minneapolis, where there are over 4,000 homeless vets.


"When you hear numbers like 75,000 on any given night, and upwards of 200,000 in the whole country, it's something that has to be fixed. And so that's what we're working on doing," Marrier explained.


The third annual Hogs and Hops Beer and Barbecue Fest takes place Saturday on the Country Jam grounds in Eau Claire. A portion of the proceeds will also go to helping homeless veterans. You can find more information on how to help veterans here.

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