Rolling Thunder donates $4K to veterans’ services organization

  • Members of the Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 present Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services Director Tim Niejadlik, second from right, with a $4,000 donation. From left are Jeff Neipp, Marybeth Hayward, Vera Coupal, Niejadlik and Fred Blanchard. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

  • Members of the Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 present Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services Director Tim Niejadlik, second from right, with a $4,000 donation. From left are Jeff Neipp, Marybeth Hayward, Vera Coupal, Niejadlik and Fred Blanchard. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DeLUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/6/2019 6:08:33 PM

GREENFIELD — Donations supporting a local veterans’ organization will lend a hand to widows and families of fallen veterans ahead of the holiday season.

Members of the nonprofit Rolling Thunder Inc. Vermont Chapter 1, including President Jeff Neipp, of Leyden, visited the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Association office in Greenfield on Oct. 31 to make a donation to the local association.

The donation was made in two parts. One check for $2,000 was in the name of Rolling Thunder. A second check of equal value was in the name of late Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 Vice President Gary Coupal.

“He was a career army veteran,” Neipp said.

Coupal died on July 13 at age 62. He served in the United States Army for 20 years. Coupal is survived by his daughter, Jillian, son-in-law Andrew, and their grandchildren; his brother, Rob, and sisters Judy, Cindy, Mary and Kerri; and his wife, Vera Coupal, a fellow member and secretary of Rolling Thunder Inc. Vermont Chapter 1, based in Brattleboro, Vt.

“Donations were made in his memory to Rolling Thunder, and now Rolling Thunder is passing the donations on,” Vera Coupal said.

Vera Coupal said that her husband loved the local veteran’s association and its efforts to benefit Franklin County veterans. The money from this donation will purchase food gift cards at a value of $50 each to give to families of late veterans, according to Tim Niejadlik, director of the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services.

“We like to buy food gift cards to provide to low-income families,” Niejadlik said. “We always try to do that before Thanksgiving, so they have enough to buy a good Thanksgiving dinner if they need it.”

“We did that last year, too, and Gary really, really liked that program,” Vera Coupal said. “It was very touching.”

Both Neipp and Niejadlik said the donation proves to be extra beneficial to widows and dependents of veterans around the holidays. More often than not, widows and family members who received donations through the local veterans’ services office send back gracious “thank you” letters, Niejadlik said. Members of the local office will also drop off most donations in person, and spend time with the families they are visiting.

“We’re pleased to accommodate the local district with an extra $4,000 for the benefit of veterans, widows of veterans and their families in Franklin County,” Neipp said.

Niejadlik said that Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 has provided his office with approximately $6,000 in donations over the last six years, often just ahead of the holiday season. Members of the chapter who were present on Thursday included Vera Coupal, Neipp, Richard Lindemann, Marybeth Hayward and Fred Blanchard.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.


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