Ken Pickard is a man of action.
He spent close to 40 years as a regular working man, and several years previous to that in the Army.
So when retirement came his way in 1995, it wasn’t going to keep him from slowing down.
“I just sat my first year after, but told myself ‘This ain’t gonna cut it,” Pickard recalled. “So I started doing this.”
By this, Pickard is referring to his full-time volunteer cause of donating clothing and other items to veterans in need. Whether they are hospitalized, without family or homeless, Pickard will do what he can to help his fellow brethren of the armed forces.
When he started this volunteer work, he was completely on his own. Pickard said he would pick up clothing as he found it, but his church offered to help and gave him a budget. He now has a section of the clothing closet at the Compassion Center where he sorts and organizes the clothing items he takes to disabled or homeless veterans across the state.
Pickard now even gets help from the AmVets in Duncan to help supply donated clothing items, and even some he has to purchase. Between his church and the AmVets, Pickard now has a large operation that spans into six different cities, including Duncan.
“I travel to Sulphur, Talihina, Ardmore, Lawton and Clinton,” Pickard said.
In each of those cities is a veterans care center, which offers help to disabled or homeless veterans.
“I bring them clothing if they need it, blankets, shoes, socks, underwear,” Pickard said. “Really, anything they need, I’ll bring them.
“I usually have a box at our church and ask for certain things for people to donate, and like say this week, I’m asking for toiletries.”
Other times, Pickard has asked for new socks, underwear, and anything else people are willing to donate to him.
He also said that people can bring their clothing to the Compassion Center and specifically leave it to his cause.
“I’ve been doing this now for 10 to 12 years, and people know what I’m doing here now,” Pickard said. “They can leave stuff specifically for me to use if they want.”
Pickard said he feels this is something he should be doing to help out those veterans in need, and said helping all of the people he does is like taking care of his children.
“It’s like having 175 kids who need shirts, britches and socks,” Pickard said. “But I enjoy doing it, and knowing they can use it and will use it is great.”
Pickard said he can use donations of just about any variety and any size. However, he said he’s pretty full up on suits, and asked more for day-to-day clothes and necessary items.
Pickard was happy to talk about some of the people he’s helped. He provides blankets for warmth, shoes and socks for protection and even the occasional entertainment item to keep their spirits high. He said he’s always willing to go the extra mile to stay busy and to continue helping Oklahoma’s veterans.
“Oklahoma leads the U.S. in shelters for veterans,” Pickard said. “And I’m happy I can be a part of that factor by helping those that need it.”
— Kevin Kerr is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354 Ext. 147 or by e-mail at email@example.com.