War exhibit provides help for KC homeless

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For Veteran’s Day weekend, a touring exhibit honoring troops from Kansas and Missouri who died in Afghanistan and Iraq came to a close and served as a giveaway for people in need.

On Sunday, the American Friends Service Committee, along with the Veterans for Peace of Kansas City and the Artists Helping the Homeless Organization, gave away boots and shoes inside Mill Creek Park that were part of their war exhibit to anyone in need who happened to walk by the display.

Before the boots became donations, they were used to put across a strong message. The exhibit was called "Eyes Wide Open,” a memorial demonstrating the costs of war which was put on by the American Friends Service Committee.

Each pair of the 217 boots that were laid out represented a troop from Kansas or Missouri who died while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. And each pair of regular shoes represented an innocent civilian from one of these countries who lost their lives as well.

One homeless woman, Denise Townsend, said she has little to her name and was very grateful she was given a free pair of boots while walking through the park Sunday afternoon.

“I feel very fortunate. I feel like its God sent,” Townsend said. “It means a lot because I don't have any shoes.”

Ira Harritt of the American Friends Service Committee, talked about the importance of an event like this one.

“It’s estimated that 20 percent of Kansas City’s homeless are veterans, so we want to make the point we need to be investing in our citizens,” said Harritt. “We need to be taking care of the homeless and the needy and our veterans so we are turning these combat boots, symbols of war, into something that will be useful for men and women in Kansas City as the winter approaches.”

Sunday marked the exhibit's final day of a six year traveling tour.

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