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Airmen support charitable cause

More than 200 Airmen from Vandenberg recently volunteered their time to assist an event important to many current and former military members, at Santa Maria Fairpark Oct. 18. Santa Barbara County’s third annual Veterans Stand Down aimed to assist and provide necessary resources, to hundreds of veterans in need. (Courtesy photo/Released)

More than 200 Airmen from Vandenberg recently volunteered their time to assist an event important to many current and former military members, at Santa Maria Fairpark Oct. 18. Santa Barbara County’s third annual Veterans Stand Down aimed to assist and provide necessary resources, to hundreds of veterans in need. (Courtesy photo/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- More than 200 Airmen from Vandenberg recently volunteered their time to assist an event, near and dear to many current and former military members, at Santa Maria Fairpark Oct. 18.

Santa Barbara County's third annual Veterans Stand Down aimed to assist and provide necessary resources to hundreds of veterans in need.

"The event hosted more than 250 veterans and their families at the Santa Maria Fairpark," said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Price, 30th Launch Group superintendent. "The Stand Down brought together private and public resources to provide medical, dental, vision screenings, haircuts, clothing, shoes, hygiene products, Veterans Affairs services, legal assistance, showers, veterinarian services, pet micro-chipping and free meals for breakfast and lunch."

Similar to a job fair type environment, the event gathered nearly 100 independent services, ready to support vets in numerous ways, all in one centralized location.

"It took a committee of almost 100 people to help coordinate this event," said Sandy Agalos, Santa Barbara County Stand Down coordinator. "We really just want to help homeless veterans get back on their feet -- with the hope they find an agency that is right for them and can provide the proper assistance."

With a desire to contribute to a cause greater than themselves, members of Team-Vandenberg have been diligently coordinating, contributing and preparing for the occasion for months.

"Team-Vandenberg supported the Stand Down in a myriad of ways," said Price. "Each group had a representative who led clothing drives throughout the summer, to receive items of dire need such as clothes, undergarments and toiletry items. This was in addition to collection sites at heavy traffic buildings on base. Additionally, two fundraisers were conducted that raised nearly $600. Furthermore, base personnel assisted logistical efforts to shuttle donated items to central collection points throughout the summer and fall. The Top III donated excess items from the Airman's Attic. Finally, more than 130 personnel assisted during the week to help stage and tear down at the Fairpark Convention Center and escort veterans around the park to receive services."

Those who organized the event, remain grateful for the consistently philanthropic spirit so many Vandenberg Airmen exhibit.

"Many Vandenberg Airmen volunteered to help make it a success," said Agalos. "They escorted the veterans, had lunch with them and just visited. It's so nice to see the veterans will always have support from Airmen and the community. In the end, all our hard work was worth it and we owe a lot of that success to the Airmen of Vandenberg who came out and volunteered their time."

For the many volunteers, providing services to those who've come before proved to be a memorable experience.

"It's critical we extend a helping hand to the veterans who have served this great nation and preserved freedom around the world," said Price. "We have a unique bond that transcends the generations. I think if you ask anyone who volunteered on Saturday, they would tell you they got more out of the day -- by helping heroes in need."