Advancing National Service

The Surprisingly Simple Actions Helping Veterans Visit the Memorials That Honor Their Service

August 28, 2014
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The Surprisingly Simple Actions Helping Veterans Visit the Memorials That Honor Their Service
Warren Vincent raises money from can recycling to send veterans to visit war memorials. Chris Greenberg/Getty Images
Collecting cans and selling lemonade raises thousands of dollars for Kansas Honor Flights.

Collecting cans and recycling them for cash can yield a person quite a large amount of money. For one man, however, this bounty doesn’t go into his pocket; it goes towards helping out veterans.

Each week, Warren Vincent of Hutchinson, Kan. straps a towering pile of garbage bags bulging with cans to the back of his pickup with an elaborate web of bungees and cables and drives them to Midwest Iron and Metal Inc., where he usually receives a couple hundred dollars.

Every cent Vincent raises from his can-hauling missions goes to his program Cans 4 Kansas Honor Flights, which helps fund Kansas Honor Flight, an organization that flies veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to Washington D.C. to visit war memorials.

Each vet’s trip costs $700, and Vincent keeps that amount in mind as he travels around the town collecting cans wherever he sees them and picking them up from two drop-off stations he’s set up in McPherson County, Kan., including one at the NCRA Refinery, where employees have been especially generous with their leftover soda cans.

Since May 2013, he’s raised nearly $10,000 — enough to send 14 veterans on an unforgettable trip.

Vincent told Katy Hanks of the Hutchinson News as he drove her in his can-crammed truck that he could haul even more if he had a trailer. Later that day, some good news came through. “The workers at NCRA are going to buy me a trailer,” Vincent tells Hanks. “That’s the best news of the entire four years I have been doing this.”

Vincent’s efforts to help veterans are remarkable, and he’s not the only Kansan providing assistance to our former service members. According to Hanks, there’s a group of youngsters — made up of Kristin and Rikkie Estus and Connor and Katherine Nilson — that have raised $550 for Kansas Honor Flight by running a lemonade stand for the past three years. Thirteen-year-old Kristin Estus tells Hanks, “The best part of having the annual lemonade stand is hearing the veterans’ stories.”

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