Marine vet kicks off week-long campout in mall

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Veteran Scott Burns tosses out a prize to every kid who was seated at a table in the food court that donated money for Purple Heart Homes on Saturday afternoon at the Mall at Barnes Crossing. The organization builds and modifies homes for disabled veterans, and Burns' week-long fundraising at the mall will benefit that cause and Eight Days of Hope.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Veteran Scott Burns tosses out a prize to every kid who was seated at a table in the food court that donated money for Purple Heart Homes on Saturday afternoon at the Mall at Barnes Crossing. The organization builds and modifies homes for disabled veterans, and Burns’ week-long fundraising at the mall will benefit that cause and Eight Days of Hope.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Scott Burns won’t be leaving the food court of The Mall at Barnes Crossing for the next six days as he raises money for veterans and tornado victims.

He kicked off his fundraising rally Saturday during the food court’s lunch rush.

Burns, who is hosting his eighth annual 7 Days for the Troops fundraiser, decided to split the money between his usual charity, Purple Heart Homes, and Eight Days of Hope, an organization using volunteer labor to help rebuild or repair hundreds of tornado-damaged homes in the area.

Burns is excited to be kicking off the week-long fundraiser, saying he always enjoys the number of different people he comes into contact with just being in the food court for a week.

“All kinds of people come through here.”

The downside, he said, is relying on the food court bathroom sinks as his only way to get clean. His stage is adorned with about 30 raffle items ranging from recliners and televisions to college football and baseball tickets and coolers. Anyone can buy a raffle ticket for $10 and the proceeds will be split between the two charities.

Burns will also be taking donations throughout the week in the food court.

“Honestly, most money comes from folks putting money in the bucket, a dollar at a time,” he said.

Purple Heart Homes is an organization that helps renovate homes, making them accessible to handicapped veterans. Eight Days of Hope will be taking as many as 3,000 volunteers from all over the country and putting them to work renovating tornado-damaged homes in Northeast Mississippi.

Burns set a goal of $15,000 for this year’s fundraiser.

He will be trying to get shoppers involved throughout the week by giving out gift cards or finding interested children who will carry a collection bucket in exchange for a prize.

Burns was a U.S. Marine before being injured in a training mission almost 20 years ago. He said he has wanted to continue to serve in some way and the week-long fundraisers have been a way for him to give back.

Anyone who wants to give can go to the food court in the Mall at Barnes Crossing or go online to www.PurpleHeartHomesUSA.org. Texting PHH to 501501 will automatically donate $10.

jb.clark@journalinc.com