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Easterseals Bloomfest is on with a special focus on veterans

It is an annual tradition to support Easterseals Oregon. Bloomfest is the non-profit’s big fundraiser. And again, this year Alpenrose is helping out.

When you think Easterseals you may think help for children with special needs or disabilities. But the same is true for adults. In fact, Easterseals Oregon works hard focusing on veterans in need.

Greg Rains is one of them.

"Two years homeless, that’s a long time," said Rains, describing the past two years, in a situation he really didn’t like, living in his car.

Rains served in the U.S. Army in the 1980s. In recent years, he fell on hard times. But thanks to Easterseals, the veteran is celebrating life in a new apartment. The nonprofit helps financially but also by assisting with the process of getting into housing.

"Nobody would even give me the time of day," Rains said, with tears in his eyes. "These guys are awesome. They’re great they really are. I couldn’t have done it without them."

Credit: Easterseals Oregon
Greg Rains in front of his apartment building. Easterseals Oregon helped the veteran get into housing after he lived in his car the past two years.

And Easterseals Oregon probably couldn't do it without the tulips. For three decades, the flowers from Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn have played a role in raising money for a good cause.

"Yes, Bloomfest is our largest fundraiser, 31 years this year," said Kristen Rantz, interim CEO of Easterseals Oregon.

Rantz said this year they've expanded the fundraiser beyond the Portland metro to include the Salem area.

It's pretty simple: you buy the flowers and the proceeds go to support Easterseals.

There's a variety of ways to take part. But Alpenrose delivery customers can have Bloomfest bouquets delivered to their door. They sold 2,000 last year and are going for 3,000 this year.

"It's $9 you’re probably going to spend anyhow to bring a little joy into your home," said Josh Reynolds, general manager for Alpenrose Dairy. "Why not do it so that it supports a great cause?"

The Alpenrose effort is all earmarked for veterans. And along with the tulip drive, Alpenrose will gift groceries to every veteran Easterseals gets into housing this year.

Rantz said helping those who served is a big deal.

"The joy that brings veterans when they get to start out their first night with the tools and food they need to be successful for their future is absolutely amazing," Rantz said.

The nonprofit said it expects to assist 300 veterans this year get into stable housing.

Alpenrose tulip deliveries run until April 15. All next week there are a number of ways to get tulips to benefit Easterseals Oregon, including ordering online and selecting a pick-up location.

More KGW stories about veterans:

VIDEO: Bloomfest fundraiser helps Easterseals (March 2021)

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