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COLUMBIA – Thanksgiving is only one week away, but one local organization is getting a head start.

On Wednesday, the Veterans United Foundation surprised two charitable organizations in Columbia, Assistance League of Mid-MO and Welcome Home.

Around 11 a.m., a small group of Veterans United workers stood in the parking lot outside of Welcome Home. Minutes later, a white bus rolled into the parking lot, and the group presented Welcome Home a check for $10,000.

“All of these funds come from our employees at Veterans United as over 90% of our employees give 1% or more of their paycheck towards our foundation,” Erika Pryor, Assistant Foundation Coordinator at Veterans United Foundation, said.

In May, Veterans United Foundation announced it would be going to more than twenty-five different communities and giving out more than $1.3 million as part of the Week of Giving. Pryor said the organizations receiving the donations were kept in the dark so it would be a surprise.

“I got an email from Veterans United Foundation a few weeks ago about coming out and talking to some potential volunteers for Welcome Home. We started a new program called KP Duty, which is Kitchen Patrol, which is a really great way to get your boots on the ground here, and so I had planned on them coming out and explaining a little bit about Welcome Home and how they can give back and serve those who have served,” said Megan Sievers, Development Director at Welcome Home.

“I was very surprised when I walked out and saw a huge group of fifty plus Veterans United employees with big, beautiful balloons,” Sievers said. 

Sievers became emotional as the check was unveiled, hugging many of the Veterans United workers and shedding tears.

“It’s very humbling. It was a huge surprise. I can’t believe they were able to keep it a secret,” Sievers said. “It really touches my heart and I have explained to them that this will impact the lives of so many veterans and their family members and they have no idea the difference they have just made with that generous gift.”

Veterans United employees surprised five local charities with $10,000 each throughout the week. The charities included Rainbow House, Loaves and Fishes, Turning Point, Assistance League of Mid-MO and Welcome Home.