Over the weekend, veterans at the Martinsburg, West Virginia Medical Center received a special New Year's delivery to brighten their day - more than 600 new sets of sweatsuits.
The suits came from a program was started in 2007 by Frank Nauer and Phil Rusciolelli as a Knights of Columbus in Loudoun County effort to support the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg.
"A lot of the veterans get limited visitors after Christmas, they may not see friends or family for weeks or months. We find this cheers them up after the holidays, they look forward to our arrival," event organizer Frank Nauer said.
Over the years, the program has expanded dramatically.
Sweats for Vets started with a delivery of 40 sweatsuits and has grown to become a combined group effort from many organizations across Loudoun County.
Some of the groups include: Knights of Columbus Assemblies, The Town of Leesburg, Loudoun County High School and other local schools, VFW Posts, The Town of Purcellville, The Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, The American Legion, Boy and Girl Scout troops, area businesses and local churches.
This year, Mayor Kristen Umstattd, as well as Mayor Bob Lazaro of Purcellville joined the group in bringing the donations to the VA Hospital.
"What really affected my daughter, Kendrick, and me when we helped deliver the sweatsuits to our disabled veterans was their universal kindness and good humor," Umstattd said. "Both of us thought this was probably the most meaningful experience that we've been able to share. Whenever they thanked us, we felt we were doing so little for them compared to what they sacrificed for us."
Mayor Lazaro echoed her praise for the program.
"The sweats for vets program has been warmly received by our heroes who are in the VA Hospital. We have been fortunate to have many generous families in the greater Purcellville area donate hundreds of sweat sets over the past several years to make this program a great success. Carolyn and I have been most fortunate to have the opportunity to say thank you to our veterans in person," Lazaro said.