More than 100 of his friends brought grocery bags filled with cans of soup, toilet paper and coffee — exactly what he asked for.
After six decades of living, Martinez had everything he needed so he asked for donations he could take to the Veterans Guest House.
The house is a place where veterans and their families can stay while receiving treatment at the nearby veterans hospital. The house runs entirely on donations from people like George Martinez.
The load Martinez brought in a red pickup truck Friday was unlike anything house manager Kathi McGathey had ever seen.
“I can’t remember the last time an individual donated this,” McGathey said, examining the large plastic tubs of supplies Martinez and his family had delivered. “This is huge, especially in economic times like this. Usually we only get a Costco pack of toilet paper or a few bags. We have never had a donation like this from a private citizen.”
Martinez, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t want a 60th birthday celebration in the first place.
“But my granddaughters made decorations, so we had one,” he said.
Since the humble man didn’t want even a birthday celebration, he opted to forgo the gifts as well, asking all his friends to bring items needed by the guest house. The Veterans Guest House publishes a wish list of needed supplies on its website, www.veteransguesthouse.org.
The result was more than 60 different packages of various items and $500 in cash donations. The items donated included more than 22 pounds of coffee, 45 rolls of toilet paper and 30 packages of hot chocolate. McGathey estimated that just the supplies that littered her kitchen floor cost more than $1,000.
“It was amazing,” Martinez said of his birthday celebration. “We had a lot of Walmart bags come into that party.
“(I think) Walmart did pretty good on us,” he added with a laugh.
The Veteran’s Guest House has been giving veterans and their families a place to call home since 1994.
Guests are encouraged to donate $25 per night to help defray costs but no one is refused for lack of funds. No government funds are used to keep the guest house going, only private donations and grants.
The house was upgraded, thanks to donations, in 2004 to the 4,700-square-foot, 12-bed facility it is today.
Due to donations, once again, the house was able to pay off its mortgage in 2009.
Martinez started donating financially to the guest house about five years ago, he said, when he heard about the annual radiothon fundraiser put on by local AM station KKOH.
Since then, he has been donating every year.
The inventory of the donation he delivered Friday totaled four handwritten pages, front and back, according to his daughter, Marjorie Langdon.
“Here is a man who has always gone above and beyond for everyone before himself,” Langdon said in an e-mail to the Tribune. “If only there more people like George in this community. Supporting not only our present but our past troops is the key to our future.”
McGathey said that just before Martinez delivered the supplies, she had received a call from the veterans hospital. It was from a man who had no way to obtain a meal after his release from care.
“Now I can tell him we have this,” she said, pointing to a stack of soup cans lying on the kitchen floor.