Brownsburg girl’s birthday wish: Helping homeless veterans

BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- A 7-year-old Brownsburg girl has a special birthday wish as she turns eight this weekend.

Instead of asking for presents, Grace Otey is collecting canned goods, clothing and blankets for homeless veterans.

“I’ve always thought their sacrifice was so ginormous and I’ve always wanted to help them,” she said. “There are so many veterans in the world that don’t have any food, home, clothes, shoes or blankets.”

Bob Otey, Grace’s father, said when she asked for a birthday party for her class and Girl Scout troop, she also announced her charitable idea.

“We were pretty amazed because she has always been involved with the American Legion Auxiliary since she was born but we were really surprised she came up with that,” he said.

Grace comes from a veteran-filled family. Her grandmother says Grace got involved with the American Legion Auxiliary when she was younger and hasn't missed an honor flight yet. Her grandmother boasts dozens of pictures showing Grace shaking every single veteran’s hand.

“There were 200 of them on one flight!” Grace exclaimed.

The Otey family got the ball rolling fairly quickly. Within a week, they’ve coordinated donation drop-offs at the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation downtown and at the American Legion Post 500 in Speedway. They’ve also set up a “Gracie’s Wish” account at Huntington Bank, so people can make a deposit. They’re now asking for the community’s help.

“I think we should all try to help the veterans as much as we can,” Grace said.

“I would just like folks to get behind it and help Gracie get her wish,” her father added.

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