Project Suds cleans vets’ duds


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Adam Johnson from VFW Post 3991 presents a check to Ann King-Smith for Project Suds.

Photo courtesy of project suds

The thought came to Ann King-Smith during a coat drive the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 163 in Eau Gallie was conducting for homeless veterans. She wondered how the veterans would keep their coats clean.

This was the genesis of Project Suds America, an effort initiated by the auxiliary to help homeless veterans wash and dry their clothing.

King-Smith and other volunteers meet at the Flamingo Laundry on Wickham Rd. in Melbourne at 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday to assist 16 to 20 veterans with their laundry. They haven’t missed a week since the effort began in October 2013.

Homeless veterans requiring this service need only show up with a DD-214 or military I.D.

“Some of the veterans have remarked this is such a simple, basic thing, that people sometimes overlook,” King-Smith said.

Now a non-profit 501 (C)(3)organization, Project Suds recently received the American Legion Auxiliary’s highest honors, the National President’s Award for Excellence. 

The effort has spread to other American Legion Auxiliary units throughout the United States. It has also expanded locally. 

“We now provide veterans with transportation to the Veterans Administration. We also provide help with food and personal hygiene and assist with obtaining housing vouchers through the VA and HUD,” King-Smith said. “Once a voucher is obtained, we collect household items and help the veterans furnish their apartments.”

King-Smith said the effort helps veterans feel like part of a family.

“There is someone they can count on and call on.”

The organization accepts donations of toiletries and non-perishable food. There is always a need for quarters to use on washers and dryers at the laundry.

Funds are raised at a Vendor Quarter Auction, which takes place at 1 p.m. the third Sunday of each month at the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 163, 1795 North Harbor City Boulevard, Melbourne.

King-Smith said her reward is seeing a homeless veteran smile and be happy.

“Somehow, through volunteers and with the help of God, we make miracles happen for these guys.”

For information, call 772-207-0401  or go to projectsuds.org.