Vietnam veteran now serves Southwest Florida families in need

Donald Payton served in Vietnam. Now, he is serving our retired soldiers in need in Southwest Florida, helping veterans get off the street and back on their feet.

To you and I, items like shaving cream, deodorant and shampoo are things we find around the house. But they are a luxury for veterans that pick them up at this Fort Myers warehouse.

Some do not have a place to call home.

“There’s a lot of veterans out there and I was unfortunately involved in being homeless and didn’t really know where to turn,” said Darrell Harris, a Marine veteran. “Then, Don started this.”

Payton is the Vietnam veteran behind ‘Hearts and Homes for Veterans’ who is inspiring people. He started the non-profit because he saw soldiers struggling to readjust to life after service.

Payton felt compelled to do something to show to these down-on-their-luck veterans that people do care.

What began as Payton giving out items from the back of his truck has now grown to many hands helping his non-profit that provides veterans with transportation, toiletries and furnishings.

“We give them everything you see in your house,” Payton said. “Beds, new beds, pots, pans, dishes.”

It is all in the effort to take families off the streets and put them into a house of their own, lifting veterans out of poverty.

“It’s a great thing when you see them finally get in the house,” Payton said. “We just had a family with five children and we got them in a house and all the kids were coming up and hollering, ‘we have a bed, we have a bed.’”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Michael Mora
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