Homeless veteran’s story inspires man to create non-profit for vets in need

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The story of a Memphis veteran living out of his car is inspiring people all across the country to take action for other vets in need.

WREG first told you about disabled Marine veteran Lonnie Whitfield earlier this week. Recently, a real estate broker from Florida promised to find him free housing for a year.

Now others are working to make sure others do not end up like Whitfield.

After WREG’s stories aired, Whitfield said the Memphis VA has stepped up to help him. They are putting him in a hotel for four days. He had previously been told by them that they didn’t have any vouchers to help him.

James Knowles of Memphis also knew he had to do something after hearing Whitfield’s story, so he started The Love Project. The Facebook group already has close to a thousand members.

Knowles is working to get a non-profit status. His goal is to have a network of hotels and restaurants that will offer vouchers to vets in need and give people the opportunity to donate clothing and hygiene products.

“We want these restaurants and corporations to step up and say, ‘This is not going to hurt us to step up and feed a veteran for one day,'” Knowles said.

Knowles said when the project is up and running, veterans in need can apply online. They will be screened and then recommended to businesses offering help.

As far as Whitfield goes, the Florida real estate broker is using connections in Memphis to try and find him free housing for a year.

She said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to help.

“I’ve got a gentleman that offered up, for furniture, $1,500,” she said.

Both Caliendo and Knowles said they are just eager to make a difference and bring some good out of one man’s struggle.

“Somebody just needs to get up and do something,” Caliendo said.

To learn more about The Love Project, click here.

To donate to Lonnie Whitfield, click here.

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