Battlin’ Betties deliver to homeless vets on Giving Tuesday

Bill Jiron, founder of the Veterans Awareness Center in Greenwood, received an SUV full of donations from veterans’ support group the Battlin’ Betties on Giving Tuesday. Betties Kelly Patch, second from left, and Lia Mendoza delivered the clothing to Mr. Jiron and his wife, Liz Byers-Jiron, right. The group removed their face masks for the photo. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Lia Mendoza admits that she was slightly disappointed in the slow start the Battlin’ Betties Delaware Platoon got off to on its Giving Tuesday project, with donations trickling in slowly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After all, they wanted to bring a little bit of joy to homeless veterans in Delaware through the Veterans Awareness Center in Greenwood — by giving them warm hats and clothing for the winter.

It took some time to create the spark, but by the time Giving Tuesday arrived just after Thanksgiving, the Battlin’ Betties, a throwback group that supports U.S. veterans and first responders, had gathered enough donations to almost fill up Mrs. Mendoza’s SUV.

“The Betties ended up getting enough donations of clothing to fill my whole SUV, so I couldn’t see out of the car minus the front window,” said Mrs. Mendoza, the platoon leader for Delaware’s Battlin’ Betties. “The passenger side was full, too. My son helped me play Tetris to get all the bags into the car! Once I got into the SUV, it was a relief that the Betties pulled it off with the collection and pure joy.

“It was an amazing feeling. When the Betties started collecting, it started out kind of slow. With COVID, I think it is hard for people to donate things during this time. But then, I made some amazing contacts that made it all come together.”

Not only that, but Mrs. Mendoza discovered she was much more capable at crafting things than she might have previously realized.

One homemade hat turned into two, and by the time she was finished, she had crafted an astounding 103 hats for the homeless veterans.

“No, I did not think I could make that many hats,” she said. “I got 50 done on a Saturday and thought, ‘Wow, I should make a goal of 100. Apparently, I lost count because I ended up with 103. My daughter helped by sitting on my shoulders as I sewed. Got to love kids! I did them over the course of 15 days, but if I had to guess hours, maybe 15 hours or so.”

Mrs. Mendoza’s SUV was also filled with a large donation of coats they received from one individual donation. They also received gifts of coats, pants, socks, scarves and hats. Another of her neighbors brought her suits and ties, along with shoes.

Mrs. Mendoza and fellow Battlin’ Bettie Kelly Patch delivered the donations for the homeless veterans to Bill Jiron, the founder of the Veterans Awareness Center, and his wife, Liz Byers-Jiron.

“We had to keep the group that went small due to COVID, so we decided that the two of us would go,” said Mrs. Mendoza, whose nickname is “Trudy Crafty” when she’s with the Battlin’ Betties. “They (the Jirons) are amazing people doing some real good for the veteran community. We happened to come on (Mr. Jiron’s) birthday and got to sing him ‘Happy Birthday.’ We hope to be at their Veterans Stand Down in September 2021.”