Philadelphia teen raises thousands to help homeless veterans

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

PHILADELPHIA – Army veteran Brian Roberts said his hardest fought battle didn’t come until he was back home after serving.

“I was homeless for a little bit,” he said. “I slept in my car. It was hard.”

Roberts had trouble finding a job when he returned home, leaving him unable to pay his bills. 

“It was hard to transition,” he said. “People in the military have pride, and sometimes that pride build’s like an obstacle and sometimes it’s hard to ask for help.”

Roberts is finding help now, though, from 14-year-old Cole McCafferty.

Two years ago, while McCafferty was walking home from school, he saw a man holding a sign that said he was a homeless veteran.

“It was unfathomable to me,” McCafferty said. “I could not imagine how this man who had signed up to possibly die to protect my freedom, how he could be homeless. It was part of that which compelled me to set up Cole’s Challenge.”

Cole’s Challenge has two parts: The first is to challenge everyone to perform a random act of kindness; the second is to raise $50,000 dollars for the Veterans Multi-Service Center.

Debby Derricks is the director of development for the VMC. She said the money will go toward a new kitchen at the newly built Edison 64 veteran’s community.

“The VMC serves more than 6,000 veterans every single year with comprehensive services,” Derricks said. “It’s everything from benefits and entitlements analysis to housing to job training and job placement.”

Edison 64 is a former high school that endured the highest number of casualties during the Vietnam War.

“We have 66 units of permanent housing. We’ll have comprehensive services on site including a warming kitchen thanks to Cole’s Challenge,” she said.

More important to McCafferty, there will also be a sense of community at the facility.

“I just thought if you got all these guys together, you had them interacting, you had them eating together, you give them a sense of community,” he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, there were more than 23,000 veterans unsheltered or living on the street in January 2018.

That number has been declining thanks people like McCafferty and facilities like the VMC.

It’s helped Roberts find a home, secure a job, and get back on his feet. He’s now paying it forward by helping to renovate Edison 64.

Roberts said he hopes Cole’s Challenge will encourage people to serve the ones who are willing to risk it all for freedom.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News