A Mesa man soon will begin an "on the street" experience aimed at bringing awareness to the plight of homeless veterans while accepting donations of cash and blue jeans for a nonprofit organization that helps them.
From 9 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Sunday, Tom Steinhagen, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, will start fasting and living in his car outside of Berge Ford, 460 E. Auto Center Drive, near Mesa Drive and the U.S. 60, for the Stand Up and Stand Proud organization, giving the community an around-the-clock opportunity to stop by and see how he's living - rain or shine.
Steinhagen, the founder of Stand Up and Stand Proud, is a member of Legion Riders and the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders, and is also active with local American Legion groups. He has set a goal of filling the trunk of his car with new or slightly used blue jeans that will be passed on to homeless veterans within those 80 hours.
Steinhagen's demonstration seeks to elevate, educate, and inform residents of the Valley to the plight of the homeless veteran who sometimes returns home to no job or home after serving their country.
Steinhagen and his wife, Valerie, established the nonprofit organization in 2009, creating the Stand Up and Stand Proud Benefit Run, helping homeless veterans one ride at a time.
One out of every four homeless is a veteran, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education non-profit organization. That group based its findings on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the United States Census Bureau. In 2005, the data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.
Berge Ford will donate $5 to Steinhagen's cause for each vehicle test-driven during the 80 hours he is living in his car.
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