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‘Stand down’ event offers assistance to veterans

POSTED: November 22, 2013 12:19 a.m.

Homeless and needy veterans will have the opportunity to receive vital supplies Saturday through several area veterans organizations.

The American Legion Post 328, the Hall County Veterans Coalition and The Elks Lodge No. 1126 are having a Stand Down for veterans in need from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event will be held at St. John Baptist Church, 757 E.E. Butler Parkway in Gainesville.

“Stand down” is a military term denoting a time of rest and recuperation for troops in combat, said Johnny Varner, Ninth District Junior Vice Commander of the American Legion.

The inaugural event for the Gainesville area will offer veterans in need a chance to refresh their resources and get ready for the winter months.

Varner said the groups held a similar “stand down” in Oakwood two years ago and were able to help several veterans find assistance.

The central location at the Gainesville church was chosen with the intent of providing easy access for donations and for people staying in local shelters, Varner said.

Varner said he hopes the event will draw at least 100 people but that he will still feel a sense of accomplishment if the groups are able to help just one.

“Obviously, we hope we get as many people there as we can,” said Larry Emmett, past commander of American Legion Post 7 and past exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge. “We’re trying to put the emphasis on homeless veterans, but we want to help as many people as we can.”

The event will provide veterans with information from federal, state and private agencies about free services and assistance programs such as Veteran Affairs benefit counseling, post-traumatic stress disorder counseling, health screenings, welfare, Social Security, housing, legal, employment and medical services. Free haircuts, clothing and food also will be provided.

Donations are still being accepted and can be dropped off anytime during the event.

Donations should be nonperishable food items and items to prepare for cold weather like blankets, caps, gloves, coats and rain jackets. Personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes also wiil be accepted.

Emmett said any items that aren’t given away during the event will be donated to local organizations.

“We’re looking for a good crowd,” Emmett said. “We’ve put a lot of effort into this, and we’ve got so many people in Gainesville that are anxious to help with it. It should be a good, fun-filled day, We’re going to try and feed them and get some clothes, mostly homeless veterans, but anyone in need we’re happy to help as well.”


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