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Delivering Holiday Gift Baskets to Our Veterans at the Bay Pines VA Hospital

As a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, EM Key Solutions wanted to put together a little something for our local Veterans at the Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. 


EMKS team members volunteered their time to planning and putting together Holiday gift baskets and tote bags filled with an assortment of goodies for our Vets at the Bay Pines VA Hospital. The tote bags were customized with EMKS “swag” and the gift baskets were filled with essentials and entertainment items such as beanies, socks, dental kits, beauty tools, snacks, games, flowers, and more. The volunteers spent about a month planning and ordering everything and a weekend putting the gift bundles together which required a whole UHAUL trailer to deliver

There were 210 recipients total with some receiving EMKS customized tote bags with swag and some receiving flower arrangements and baskets. The flower arrangements consisted of green roses and red carnations (with green roses symbolizing respect and red carnations symbolizing admiration) we felt it was very appropriate as that is what we have for our Veterans, admiration, and respect. 

The team also took steps to accommodate different types of illnesses and disabilities and to match them with appropriate forms of entertainment. “We tried to anticipate what the Vets needed,” said Pete O’Neal, EMKS’ Chief Strategy Officer. “For those who had no use of their arms, we got a keyboard that goes on the floor that can be played by feet. We got a game called “What’s That Smell” for those who cannot see, as well as braille Dominoes and Rubik’s’ Cubes. We tried to accommodate as many disabilities as we could think of. We filled the social area with many types of games and puzzles. We provided the residents with word searches, crossword puzzles, sudokus, and trivia. We furnished the residents and patients with socks and hats to keep them warm because hospitals are inherently cold. We also supplied snacks, dental kits, and nail kits, as well as EMKS pens and notepads.”

Unfortunately, due to concerns with the flu outbreak, we were unable to hand-deliver the gifts to the Veterans at Bay Pines, but we are looking forward to having many more events to let our Veterans know that we care and value them.

Jerry Partney, our Business Development Executive said, “At EMKS, over 40% of us are Veterans, so giving back to our local veteran community is something we are proud of. It’s the right thing to do and it’s something we will continue to do. Around the holidays many of us are around our families, traveling, and having an enjoyable time. We must stop and think for a moment about the individuals who cannot be around their families for various reasons. Spending time volunteering to support our local Veterans certainly got me in the holiday spirit.

The Bay Pines VA domiciliary is broken down into separate wings with short term and long-term areas for Veterans. The wings consisted of veterans undergoing various forms of rehabilitation relating to PTSD, mental disorders, substance abuse, and end of life care. Knowing that the gift bags were going to local Veterans was uplifting, they are in the hospital, whether it is voluntarily or involuntarily, so being able to bring flowers, puzzles, cards, sugar-free candy, socks, you name it, was incredible. We just hope that it brought a smile to their face!” 

As a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned company, serving Veterans is a vital part of the EMKS mission. Our commitment is to the Veteran Community, focusing on hiring veterans and helping Vets in any way that we can. We chose to reach out to Bay Pines VA Hospital this holiday season because we want to make it a point to reach all veterans, not just ones that are searching for jobs.

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