BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Western New York veterans are getting a hand up to get civilian jobs and look sharp while doing it.
Wednesday morning, the Belle Center on Maryland Street opened its doors for the Suits for Veterans distribution.
The event was scheduled to continue through 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Mayor Byron Brown says the goal was to collect 100 suits from community members to go to veterans who are transitioning to civilian life.
More than 700 suits were donated instead.
“If you give Western New Yorkers the opportunity, they will do it every time,” said Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia, who was on hand for Wednesday’s distribution.
Bellavia was among the notable guests at Wednesday’s event. He joined other local leaders who were donating suits of their own and thanking community members for opening their closets to make the Suits for Veterans program possible.
The real guests of honor, though, were the other veterans who were able to get their choice of shirts, ties, shoes, jackets, and pants to look and feel their best at their next job interview.
“Someone is going to take this suit and next Thanksgiving, they may be able to provide for their family in the job that they love and be able to have dignity and respect back in their lives,” Bellavia said. “That’s one of the most beautiful gifts you can give.”
The gifts continue after the distribution event, too.
Each veteran also received a voucher for free dry cleaning and alterations from Colvin Cleaners.
“If they’re looking for a job, you get one chance for a first impression, so to show up in a nice, tailored suit looking your best, feeling your best, you’re going to have confidence doing whatever the next chapter in your life is,” said Colvin Cleaners Vice President Chris Billoni.
“We’re just honored to be part of this program,” he added.
All of the suits were donated over the last two weeks.
Any veteran who would like to get a suit during Wednesday’s distribution needs to bring the proper documents to show their service.