Stevenson High School Patriots fans are invited to help veterans in need while they cheer on the varsity football team.
Patriots fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used coats to the Stevenson game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Mundelein High School.
The initiative is a key part of Operation Stand Down, which is administered by Lake County coordinators and volunteers. A Stand Down is a military term defined as a unit’s refitting or resetting for the next mission. For the Lake County Veteran’s Assistance Commission, it is an event in which veterans in need receive a medical and dental assessment, a haircut, and a referral for other services. In addition, with winter approaching, the VAC has long strived toward the goal of providing each veteran in-need with one winter coat.
According to Mike Peck, director of the Lake County Veteran's Assistance Commission, approximately 13 percent of Lake County’s veterans are unemployed, with 388 receiving state assistance, 131 requiring monthly food supplement aid, and approximately 60 who are homeless.
“For the 2012 Stand Down, we served 256 veterans. I am expecting to serve over 300 veterans this year,” Peck said.
“In addition to the assessment for medical and dental needs, claims assistance, and peer support, we try to provide a path toward self-sustained living,” Peck said. Many of those veterans seeking services are homeless or at risk, and in addition to the services being provided, the VAC has always tried to make clothing available for potential job interviews and coats available prior to the onset of winter.
In previous years, a Libertyville-area resident personally funded the component of providing winter clothing. However, with a worsening economy, the individual was unable to continue with this donation.
Collected coats will be delivered to the Veteran’s Assistance Commission, which will give veterans the opportunity to select one of the coats for themselves and/or family members.
Coats collected after the Stand Down are accepted by a charity and in return the VAC will obtain vouchers to provide to veterans the other 364 days a year that a need or emergency exists.
The year’s Stand Down will be held Oct. 15 at 20 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, Waukegan. For additional information or to contribute to veterans’ needs, contact Mike Peck at (847) 377-3344 or bring new or gently used coats to the Lincolnshire Police Department or other participating police department or high school football game.