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Grassroots group raises $25K for veterans parade

by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on January 16, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 1:19 AM

(KMOV) -- What started out as an idea between friends Craig Schneider and Tom Appelbaum has ballooned into a movement that includes a large parade for Iraq war veterans in downtown St. Louis.

Schneider says they started a Facebook group called: "Make January 28th Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day". 

They began seeking donations and, last week, raised enough to throw a parade.

"I work for a school district, I live with my son.  We're completely unremarkable and that's what makes it so cool because all it took was people saying, this is something the average person can do.  You don't need to wait from an order on high to help your veterans when they come back.  You can do this," said Schneider.

The last of the American troops left Iraq last month, ending the nine year war with Iraq.  Schneider says he was surprised there weren't large parades planned for veterans.  He says he and his friend got to work organizing one, quickly.

Their efforts got the support of a national non-profit called "The Mission Continues".  Check out the website here to offer additional donations or volunteer to make a float for the parade:  www.missioncontinues.org

The organizers say they could use more participants and marching bands.

Schneider says he is still reaching out to corporate sponsors.  During an interview with News 4, he held up a Chromebook and said he hoped Google would see the interview and offer a sponsorship.

"We don't have time to be shy," he added.

Other companies, including Anheuser-Busch and Mayflower offered donations.

Union Station is also letting the group use the facility to set up a Veterans Resource Village where veterans can meet with veterans service groups on January 28th.

"You wave a flag, you say thank you.  That's great, but this is more about doing something for the next step now.  What do we do now that they're home?  How do we help them get back to the community?"

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