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11/11@7 benefits homeless veterans across the country

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    Ken Leslie, left, presents Steve Baugh, president and CEO of Jordan Reses Supply Co., second from left, and Lee Armstrong of the Lucas County Veterans Services Commission, right, with autographed John Mellencamp guitars.

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  • n5chili

    Shawn Clark serves chili during the fund-raiser event at the Conn-Weissenberger American Legion in West Toledo.

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n5vets-1

Ken Leslie, left, presents Steve Baugh, president and CEO of Jordan Reses Supply Co., second from left, and Lee Armstrong of the Lucas County Veterans Services Commission, right, with autographed John Mellencamp guitars.

THE BLADE/LORI KING
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Toledo-area veterans and their supporters dined, danced, and raised money Wednesday evening to support the effort to end veteran homelessness in America.

The “11/​11@7” event at the Conn-Weissenberger American Legion Post benefited Toledo’s nonprofit Veterans Matter to get homeless veterans in permanent housing.

Many of the 200 or so guests came dressed in red, white, and blue or other patriotic gear for the event, held on Veterans Day. The hall was decked out in stars, flags, and banners to recreate the feeling of a USO-style evening.

Guests sampled a dozen entries in a chili cook-off. Other festivities included a silent auction and dancing. The Toledo musical duo Candice Coleman and Chris Brown performed patriotic songs and other selections. “War bonds” were available to purchase in financial support of veterans to symbolize the bond between homeless veterans and the larger community.

Veterans Matter founder Ken Leslie thanked those gathered for helping to end veteran homelessness, telling them their efforts have helped more 850 veterans and their families get permanent housing across the country.

“When you think of a veteran who fought for us, sleeping on a winter night in the front seat of his car, then think about his two children in the back seat,” he said. “You realize how powerful your contributions are to this community.”

n5chili

Shawn Clark serves chili during the fund-raiser event at the Conn-Weissenberger American Legion in West Toledo.

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John Alexander, first vice commander of the Conn-Weissenberger post, said it’s important to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and other difficulties.

“We have to do anything we can to help these veterans,” said Mr. Alexander, 63, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “We’re all brothers, we’re all comrades.”

Veterans Matter joined with the National Exchange Club, a service organization of Toledo, to hold similar “11/​11@7” events in nearly 90 cities around the country, including Houston, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, Nashville, Washington, and New York. National Exchange Club has more than 650 clubs across the country and more than 20,000 members.

The Toledo event was hosted by the Exchange Clubs of Toledo, West Toledo, Maumee, and Greater Maumee Bay, the Veterans Service Commission of Lucas County, and the Lucas County commissioners.

Veterans Matter works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program and provides money for housing deposits for veterans who are otherwise able to secure permanent housing.

Mr. Leslie said the average cost of a housing deposit is $750. Proceeds from the 11/​11@7 events will go toward those deposits and the larger effort to end veteran homelessness.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at:

llindstrom@theblade.com,

419-724-6154, or on

Twitter @lelindstrom.

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