Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who has spearheaded the event, said he and other volunteers have spent the past two days sorting and moving hundreds of items that will feed, clothe and help shelter veterans throughout the county.
Lavagnino came up with the idea of hosting the county event but said he never expected so much community support.
“We have so much to give away. There’s not going to be a veteran that goes away without enough items,” Lavagnino told Noozhawk on Thursday. “It’s been a real eye-opener for me.”
About 350 trained volunteers will distribute those donations from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg St.
The county event is modeled after similar events hosted nationwide since 1988 through efforts of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department.
The day will kick off with busses picking up veterans and bringing them to a pancake breakfast, provided by the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
Lavagnino said veterans will be offered prepacked backpacks with toiletries and other donated items as they walk in the door, where they can also take advantage of many general services after the 10 a.m. opening ceremony.
Those services include haircuts, showers, legal services, employment counseling, social services, mental, dental, vision and hearing services, entertainment and more.
“Show up on Saturday, and we will have plenty to give you to take care of you,” Lavagnino said. “The long-term needs are basically what we’re going after, too.”
PODS, a local moving and storage company, has also helped take a stand against veteran homelessness by placing a dropoff container in the parking lot of the Administration Building at the Betteravia Government Center. Some of the items collected include towels, boxes of soap, socks, shirts, clothing, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, paper goods and much more.
Lavagnino said the event could feed up to 500 veterans, who will be treated to a barbecue at 4 p.m.
As the first countywide event, Lavagnino said he hopes this is the first of many years.
“As long as there are veterans out there, we’ll continue this event,” Lavagnino said.