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Stand Down Event for Veterans in Need Still Seeking Community Donations

Socks, T-shirts, underwear and towels will be accepted at locations in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara

Last fall, the Santa Barbara County Stand Down event reached out to more than 450 veterans in need, and volunteers are already gearing up to make this year's event another success.

The event invites veterans to partake in an array of free services, including more basic services such as free showers and haircuts, meals and clothing to résumé help, job-hunting advice and even legal advice for those in need.

The Santa Maria Fairpark will host the event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, and veterans in other locations, including five places in Santa Barbara, can take a free shuttle to the park for the event.

The event's organizers are asking people to pitch in and contribute donations they still need, including men’s and women’s socks, T-shirts, underwear and towels, and different locations in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara will be accepting those donations, according to Sandy Agalos, coordinator for the event.

Agalos said a storage container had already been filled with donations after just a few days.

Agalos works as an aide to Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who first proposed a local version of the event after watching a 60 Minutes episode on the Stand Down event in San Diego.

Agalos traveled to the event to see if it could be done locally.

Upon returning, "I said I think we can do it and [Steve] said, 'Go for it,'" Agalos said.

Since then, Agalos said the event has highlighted "the goodness of people," from the fairgrounds letting the event use the space for free to the hundreds of volunteers who help.

More than 70 service providers will be on site during the event, and Agalos encouraged veterans to take advantage of the offerings.

"It's a respite, it's a safe enclosure and no one is going to hassle them," she said.

To drop off donation items in Santa Barbara, the Common Ground Santa Barbara County Office, 131 E. Anapamu St., will be accepting items from 10 a.m. to noon next Monday and Tuesday.

In Lompoc, donations can be taken to the Lompoc Chamber of Commerce, 111 Sout I St., next Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also in Lompoc, collection boxes have been set up for drop-off during normal business hours at the City of Lompoc, Lompoc Unified School District, Excel Personnel Services, Coast Hills, Lompoc and Vandenberg Village, Valley Medical Group Counseling Center, South Side Coffee Co. and the Lompoc Family YMCA.

In Santa Maria, donations can be taken to the Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg St., to the PODS container at Gate 7 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Also accepting items in Santa Maria is the American GI Forum Community Center, 116 Agnes St., which will be open from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 20.

For more information on donating or volunteering with the effort, visit the group's website by clicking here or call 805.346.8402.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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