ABOVE RIGHT: Cheryl Camden holds a photo of Sonny Bice, a disabled veteran who served in Vietnam.
Cheryl and Doug Camden started their “giving tree” about 10 years ago.
The owners of the Village Grill, 4337 Old Hundred Road in Chester, decided they wanted to give back to the community that has supported their business, which has been open for 18 years.
“If it wasn’t for our customers, we wouldn’t have our business,” Cheryl said.
In previous years the business has collected donations for the men’s and women’s shelters in Petersburg, Richmond Animal League, Mercy Mall and Grace House Ministries’ pregnancy center, to name a few.
“One year, a guy needed a liver transplant. We raised $20,000,” Cheryl said. Another time they raised about $1,500 to help the family of a man with terminal cancer.
This year, the restaurant at 4337 Old Hundred Road will be donating funds that are placed on the giving tree to Disabled American Veterans.
Cheryl explained that one of their loyal customers, Sonny Bice, is a disabled veteran. “He comes in here three of four times a week and was the main reason for donating to Disabled American Veterans,” she said.
Bice was in the Marine Corps, served in Vietnam and was a boxer. He would spar with Joe Frazier, Cheryl said, noting that a couple of photos of Bice boxing are in the restaurant on a wall by the giving tree.
Bice is pleased that the Camdens decided to help. “It’s a great thing,” he said. “It shows the community is invested in their veterans.”
Jim Whitlow is commander of the local DAV chapter, which meets the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. at 6221 Newbys Bridge Road. “We really do appreciate it,” he said of the giving tree. “We depend pretty heavily on donations.”
Donations can be as little as $1 and can be clipped to the giving tree, or customers can bring in a bag with supplies for veterans and place it under the tree.
A list of suggested donations is available at the restaurant, which is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.