A Christmas tradition continues in Brevard County as more than 100 homeless veterans and their families get warm meals and a place to stay for the night.

It’s part of the “Warm Full Safe” program.

Inside a Palm Bay hotel room, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. There’s a decorated tree with a mound of wrapped gifts underneath and even a bicycle.

It’s just one of the many free rooms where dozens of Brevard County’s homeless veterans will be spending the holiday thanks to non-profit National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS).

There’s also some survival gear being handed out for when they head back to the woods, including tarps, blankets, socks and mats made from hundreds of plastic grocery bags, which is ideal for keeping dry the rest of the year.

“For them to be in the woods and not have a Christmas, for me to be able to give it to them because of the community, it’s just the most amazing feeling in the world,” said Dorothy Walsh from NVHS.

Former Army member David Brague and his three teenagers are scraping by. They lost their apartment a month ago and are staying in a park until things turn around.

“We’re living in a campground at the present time, and to get out for a few days and go to a hotel room is great,” Brague said.

At least for Christmas they’ll be out of the elements and his kids are getting presents they otherwise wouldn’t.

“It makes them happy that they at least get something for Christmas,” Brague said.

It makes for happy volunteers who said there’s nothing more rewarding than to help someone who served our country.

“It’s the most powerful, amazing feeling in the world,” Walsh said, fighting back tears.

NVHS said there are an estimated 4,500 homeless veterans living in woods, parks or streets in Central Florida.

By Greg Pallone, Reporter
December 24, 2013