Up to 500 veterans are expected to show up to the third annual Santa Barbara County Veterans Stand Down event on Saturday, October 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Donations of goods — particularly blankets, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and underwear and t-shirts for men and women — are still being accepted, said Sandy Agalos, a staff member for 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who spearheaded the area’s first Stand Down in 2012. Items can be dropped off at the following locations and on the following days:
Common Ground, Santa Barbara County Office
131 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara
Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Santa Maria Fairpark, Gate 7 at PODS container
South Thornburg Street, Santa Maria
Wednesdays, 1 – 2 p.m.
Am GI Forum Community Center
116 Agnes, Santa Maria
Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Lompoc Chamber of Commerce
111 South I Street, Lompoc
Mondays – Fridays, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Agalos said she anticipates nearly 1,000 volunteers to contribute to the event, which this year has grown to offer more services for female veterans, including annual exams conducted by female physicians, and massages. A chiropractor, a tailor, and an amputee support group will also be on hand this year.
As in previous years, the veterans — who can show up at the gate along with their spouses and children — will be offered haircuts, dental exams, showers, PTSD counseling, clothing, hygiene products, and breakfast and lunch. They can connect with health services and substance abuse programs and get advice about legal issues and looking for jobs. Close to 150 organizations and agencies — and multiple county departments — have signed on to help with the event, including the DMV, the IRS, the California Department of Veteran Affairs, the Social Security Administration, Direct Relief, and People’s Self-Help Housing.
Lavagnino praised all of the community members who are helping make this year’s Stand Down possible. When organizers encountered a scheduling glitch related to receiving surplus property from the feds, a man who owns a trucking company offered to drive to Barstow this week to pick up the backpacks and sleeping bags himself, Lavagnino said. The “coolest thing,” Lavagnino said, is connecting the veterans with a variety of services and watching the “transformation” over the course of the day. “After the first hour, it starts picking up where people are walking around and saying, ‘Hey, this is something positive.’”
For more information — including pick-up locations for the free shuttle services offered — visit sbcountystanddown.com.