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Group sponsors Veterans Appreciation Day event
A card also is included along with the bandana in each packet that tells the soldier where, or sometimes from whom, the gift is from.


Wendy Paradis, commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 17 in Gainesville, talks about Veterans Appreciation Day activities planned for Saturday.
Veterans Appreciation Day
Here are some details concerning Saturday’s event, which is open to veterans and active-duty military personnel and their families
Featured: food, raffles and entertainment
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Longwood Park, Gainesville
Contact: Wendy Paradis, 678-648-0823 or 770-967-8023

The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 17 in Gainesville has worked through a weak economy to organize its third annual Veterans Appreciation Day.

The event, set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Longwood Park, 20 Pearl Nix Parkway, Gainesville, is open at no charge to veterans and active-duty military personnel and their families.

"The only thing we charge for is snow cones and that’s to help us with the food we had to pay for this year," said Wendy Paradis, commander of the DAV chapter.

"And that’s because a lot of the (past) contributors are not helping us. ... The economy has really gotten tough for everybody."

The organization "is thankful to be able to do this again this year," Paradis said. "We’re hoping we can next year. I really hope people will call me and do contributions for next year because, otherwise, we may not be able to continue."

In addition to free food, the event features entertainment and raffles. The DAV also will be accepting new members.

Beyond appreciation, the DAV is hoping to lend a helping hand, Paradis said.

"We’re helping veterans who are trying to get their benefits or ... better (Veterans Affairs) care," she said. "If they’re having any problems at the hospital, I do have contacts there."

Other veterans groups will be taking part in the event, Paradis said.

"This year is a little different than the others," she said. "We’re trying to get all the other (veterans) groups together."

American Legion, for example, is loaning its snow cone machine "and we’re going to split the profits with them," Paradis said.

"We want to get the organizations together this year and try to get everybody to work together. ... Our sole purpose is to work for the veterans."

Wally Calderon, commandant of the Marine Corps League’s Upper Chattahoochee Detachment in Gainesville, said his group plans to mainly just mingle with veterans at the event.

"I am a Vietnam veteran and we didn’t have any appreciation when we came home," he said. "Our goal is to help these guys coming back and show appreciation for what they are doing over there."

Calderon said Saturday’s event is one of several the group will be involved in as it goes through a resurgence.

"This detachment is one of the oldest in Georgia, but it was defunct for the longest time," Calderon said. "I’m trying to bring it back to its prominence."

Also at Saturday’s event, Don Landrum, who started a Georgia chapter of Operation Bandanas, plans to display some of the bandanas he sends to military personnel.

The bandanas feature Psalms 91, which Landrum describes as a "warrior’s Psalm."

"They serve as a practical, as well as spiritual, purpose," said Landrum, a Vietnam veteran and Hall County resident.

"I take up collections by speaking to civic groups, churches and whomever will listen to me," he said, speaking of how he offsets costs of the effort.

Northeast Georgia Chapter 772 of Vietnam Veterans of America sponsors Landrum’s efforts.