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Retired military couple providing free food to veterans

Retired military couple providing free food to veterans

A Santa Rosa County couple retired from the military service found they still had a mission to fulfill.

They saw that some of their comrades needed a hand, so they set up shop and went to help.

"I was in the Air Force, active duty, and when I got out of that, I went to active Air National Guard," said Food for Vets founder Kate Mayor.

"I retired just shy of 20 years. I had some time built up and I was crash crew and I worked flight decks as well," said co-founder Tony Mayor.

This disabled veteran and her retiree husband may have hung up their uniforms, but not the will to serve. After helping a friend in Arkansas distribute food at a pantry for military veterans, Kate and Tony realized there was a need in their own backyard. They founded the Food for Vets program in Midway.

"Driving home, it really opened my eyes because I started to see what was around us. People in Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach panhandling; holding the signs that say, 'Homeless Vet', need help; need food," Kate said.

The Mayors found a storage facility that they've turned into a food distribution center. They pay the rent out of their own pockets and buy the goods. They're extremely grateful for any donations to help with the cause - like a freezer donated by a fellow veteran.

Tucked away on Cowen Road just off Highway 98, the building is stocked with a variety of foods, beverages, and personal care items.

"I am an extreme couponer. I love to coupon. My binder is at least seven inches thick so I often get a lot of things for free or very close to free," Kate said.

Everything that is there is free to any active service member or veteran who finds themselves in need. They open the doors on the third Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. until noon and other times as needed. They've had some touching moments.

"We had a Vietnam veteran come through and he didn't fill up his cart. He got a little bit and I went over and I spoke to him and I said he could get some more. And he said he didn't feel comfortable doing that; he wanted to leave it for the other people," Kate said.

That's what this is all about. It's that entrenched military culture that never leaves you - looking out for each other.

You get your papers, your DD214 and your ID card and they send you on your way with a big party. But, you don't leave it. The camaraderie is so strong that it is a brotherhood and a sisterhood.

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

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