A little give and take: Veteran Stand Down calls for donations

If you spend enough time people-watching in Linn County, it’s not so hard to see there are a lot of veterans living in the area.
They wear hats and coats that proudly display their military branch of service, and they gather together in local coffee shops to build friendships.
Perhaps others aren’t as easily identifiable. They might be busy trying to survive on the streets or struggling to pay bills and care for their families.
Organizations in the county recognize those people, so they decided to join together in a Mid-Valley Stand Down for Homeless Veterans.
The second annual stand down, hosted by Community Services Consortium and funded by Veterans Affairs, is gearing up for the Nov. 3 event as organizations sign up and locals begin to gather donations.
The stand down is aimed at military veterans and their families who need assistance with services and resources, whether they’re homeless or low-income. Free medical, housing and employment services will be on-hand, and food, hot showers, and winter items will be available as well.
The idea is to provide one central location so veterans can access all the resources they may need to get ahead, said Scott McKee, veteran eligibility clerk at CSC. The first stand down last year drew in 75 veterans, and the hope is to increase the number of veterans served this year.
“The reason we’re all motivated is to serve those who have already served us,” McKee said. “Now it’s time for them to get the assistance they need to be successful, healthy, safe and happy in life.”
While organizations are planning to be there to provide free services for veterans and their families, individuals are also doing their part to help, he added.
“The Presbyterian church in Lebanon is doing fund-raising of underwear, because sometimes we don’t think of things like clean underwear and socks as being nice to have,” McKee said.
Members of a knitting club at Knitty Gritty also agreed to help their local veterans by providing handmade caps.
When Peggy Davis first heard that the stand down would be an opportunity to donate knitted caps, it was a natural decision for her to say yes to the opportunity.
“My husband is a disabled vet and both my sons are vets too,” Davis said. “We like to do things to help veterans because we know how much they’ve given, and it’s nice to give back.”
It takes Davis about three hours to finish one cap, and she’s thinking about making some mittens too, per her husband’s suggestion. Others who are also knitting caps and scarves for the stand down are adding their donations to the pile at Knitty Gritty.
“There’s another gal who brought in four the other day, so we kind of have a little race going on between us,” Davis said.
Anyone who would like to donate to the stand down may contact Scott McKee or Connie Barkdull at (541) 928-6335, or bring their donations to the event Nov. 3 at 9 a.m.
To bus to the event for free, veterans just have to tell the bus driver they are attending the stand down in Lebanon.