95-year-old WWII veteran inspires community to help keep other veterans fed

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ASHTABULA, Ohio (WJW) — Clifford Harpst of Ashtabula is an American patriot, serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.

In the decades since the war, Harpst’s and his family have supported veterans’ causes and charities, including the new Ashtabula chapter of Feed Our Vets, a non-profit organization that has a goal: make sure that veterans and their families do not go hungry.

“Feed Our Vets has only been here for about a year, and has done a great job. Each month, they open up for the third Saturday of the month, and veterans come through and they’re allowed to shop and take what they need,” said Harpst’s son Bill.

Photo courtesy Harpst family

Clifford turned 95 on Monday, and his family decided to celebrate the milestone, by starting a food drive, with a goal of collecting 950 pounds of donated food for Feed Our Vets.

“We like to give back, he likes to give back, and in his service at the end of the war, he helped with the supply tents to send things back to the states, and so he’s kind of good at getting things organized and together,” said Bill.

The story of Clifford is inspiring a dozen businesses in Ashtabula County to get involved, by collecting donations for the campaign to Feed Our Vets.

At Tony’s Delicatessen and Catering in Ashtabula, customers picking up their carry-out orders are invited to donate to the food drive. The owner of Tony’s was so touched  by Clifford’s campaign, that he kicked off the effort by donating 95 pounds of food.

Robert Dille told Fox 8, “It’s an awesome feeling because without them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we do, and to me, that’s a true privilege to be able to help those who served us.”

Bill says his dad is keeping close track of the donations from his home in an assisted living center.

“He sends his heart out to everybody that is donating and he loves to help out those a little less fortunate, and his fellow veterans.”