Classified Senate seeks to help student veterans in need

Cheer coach Denise Harris and athletic's executive assistant Jess Perez pose with their food donations on Halloween.

Cheer coach Denise Harris and athletic’s executive assistant Jess Perez pose with their food donations on Halloween.

The Classified Senate collected food and monetary donations for the past several weeks to help student veteran families in need. Last call for donations was Friday Nov. 3. The senate is now preparing to put the baskets together.

Student veterans in need signed up anonymously to receive a basket, and were only required to provide contact information and the number of family members, according to Giziel Leftwich, an administrative assistant in the Liberal Arts division and coordinator of the food drive.

“Student veterans are allotted money from the government based on the region we live in and we only get paid for the days were in school,” said Chase Tolles, president of the Veterans student council at Saddleback. “That means all the Thanksgiving breaks, Christmas breaks and summer breaks we don’t get paid.”

When the student veterans receive assistance from outreach programs like the ones the Classified Senate put together it helps to get them through those long breaks. Some veterans don’t have a second income to help them when they need it most so having programs like this  allows them to put money aside.

On average, the Classified Senate assembles about 20 baskets out each year depending on how many sign up.

“It’s not only student veterans but I believe the student homeless population as well,” Tolles said. “All anyone in need has to do is sign up in the Veterans office to receive these benefits.”

For donations, anyone interested could donate money on the Classified Senates page directly or they could bring cash, checks, or gift cards to the designated drop off spots that could also be found on the same website.

The list of foods that were needed the most could be found on posters and flyers that were posted around campus and at the drop off spots as well as on a pdf linked on the website as well.

Leftwich was in charge of the publicity aspect of the annual food drive, including creating posters and flyers that covered Saddleback’s campus. She also contacted the college’s media to publicize the event.

In order to incentivize the departments to put the word out and receive donations, there are contests for best decorated box and most donations collected. The winners will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 16 when they assemble the baskets.

The special needs department put in a great effort to raise money and food donations for their box and is currently at the top for the competition with the adults at the ESL adult center from Silverado High School.

“As a veteran I think that what the community at large is trying to do and trying to help our veterans during the holiday season is probably the most American thing that anyone can do,” Tolles said, “It’s very heartwarming to see all these organizations get together to donate money and resources to help veterans during this time.”

This event is an introduction for what ASG will be putting on this week for Veterans Week. Each day a new branch of the military will be honored for their service.

They’ll be concluding Veterans week on Thursday by celebrating the Marine Corp’s birthday.

“It’ll be a combat fitness test, were going to try to get them to do some martial arts demonstrations,” Tolles said. “We’ll have a cake cutting ceremony that correlates to the Marine Corp birthday on Nov. 10.”

These are just a few of the programs and events that Saddleback College’s Veterans office conducts for student veterans.

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