July 26, 2012
-- Blake Leitch, AmeriCorps VISTA veteran support services officer at Lake Land College, recently raised $3200 at the Coles County Fireworks and Mattoon’s Bagelfest for a scholarship aimed to help combat wounded veterans and their families fulfill their dreams of a college education.
To raise the funds, Leitch sold “I Heart Vets” t-shirts for $5 and contributed 100 percent of the sales to the scholarship.
“This is a chance for the community to come together and support our veterans,” said Leitch. “It’s not just about selling t-shirts and increasing the visibility of veterans support; it’s a way to give back to those who’ve given something to us by serving our country.”
Leitch served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was wounded in action when an improvised explosive devise hit the vehicle in which he was a passenger.
“Since coming home and recuperating from the wounds I sustained, I have realized that there is no greater need than to invest in our veterans’ and their families’ education,” said Leitch. “I came to understand that there is not only a huge gap in veterans’ benefits, but there are also many great Americans who want to help us succeed.”
As the AmeriCorps VISTA veteran support services officer for the college, Leitch’s main goal is to build a strong network of support services for student veterans, military personnel and their families so that those students successfully complete a college certificate or degree in order for them to obtain meaningful employment to help end the cycle of poverty veterans often face after returning home from duty.
“I Heart Vets” t-shirts are still available and donations for the scholarship are being accepted. To purchase a shirt, visit www.iheartvets.com or contact Leitch at 217-234-5281 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.