The first-ever Benton County Stand Down for veterans took place on Saturday at the Belle Plaine American Legion, providing 30 area veterans and families with clothes, personal items and food.
“We knew with the coronavirus and derecho that families were in need of these items,” Jeanette Henry, VFW Auxiliary 8884 President said. “We’ve seen other countries do events like this for our communities, but we wanted to focus on veterans.”
Donations for the veterans included personal care items and clothing from Raegan’s Relief Effort. General Mills in Cedar Rapids donated 500 boxes of cereal and 3000 little packages of fruit roll ups and fruit treats.Organizers received the items by advertising and asking for donations from nearby communities. The VGM Group of Waterloo also came to provide wound care.
“There are many veterans in Benton County that won’t ask for help, but we were able to provide this event with no limits to what they could get,” Henry said. “We had several of them who couldn’t believe how much we had. They left with a lunch bag and bottled water along with all their other items. Our volunteers helped them hold their bags because some had trouble walking or carrying them. They left with lots of smiles on their faces.”
Henry credited Lynnette Coats of the Belle Plaine Auxiliary for making the event possible and plans to see the event return in 2021. The remaining food items will be going to Belle Plaine food bank and Vinton food bank, the clothing to veterans in communities in need.