Helping veteran families through the holidays
It won't be a Christmas party this year, but the We've Got Your Six Holiday Event 2020 still aims to help the families of local veterans have a merry Christmas.
"Due to COVID-19, we will not be having a face-to-face party this year," said Jefferson County Veterans' Service Officer Laura Moore. "Despite not being able to host this event in person this year, we will be connecting veteran families who need a little help with community member sponsors."
Qualified veteran families who may be struggling this year are invited to register no later than Tuesday, Nov. 24. They may register online or by calling the Veterans' Services office.
Moore said the Veterans' Services office wants to ensure families are receiving or are connected to appropriate services, so they will ask some questions of those who register to receive gifts. Those questions include whether or not the veteran has been screened for Veterans Affairs benefits and has a secure food source, stable housing, and stable employment. The registrants will also be asked the number of family members, the primary need of the family, and any children's gender, age, clothing size, shoe size, specific needs and likes.
"In the military, 'I've got your six' means 'I've got your back,'" Moore explained. "The six o'clock position is reference to a pilot's rear, their most vulnerable position, and as the story goes, it started back in World War I among fighter pilots as a way to say 'I've got you covered.'"
The Veterans' Service Office is also seeking sponsors to donate gifts for local veteran families. Sponsors can be an individual, family, organization or business. Those wanting to sponsor an individual veteran or family may sign up online.
All donated gifts must be turned into the Jefferson County Veterans' Service Office no later than 5 p.m. Dec. 14.
"Normally every year, I have an annual Christmas party for veterans," Moore said. "However, due to COVID, we're not going to have that this year, so we've been trying to find a way to reach families that may need a little assistance this year."
Last year's event was called the Annual Holiday Party. All veterans, active duty service members, and their families were invited to the event, and Black Bear Diner catered the food. There were stocking stuffers, music, dinner, a gift-wrapping table, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus paid a visit from the North Pole.
"It's just going to be different this year," Moore said.
In the past, the office has provided gifts to 25 to 50 Jefferson County veteran families.
"This year because of COVID and because so many people are struggling and have lost jobs, I anticipate the number to be much higher," Moore pointed out.
The Veterans' Services Office plans to distribute gifts to families in mid-December or by the week of Christmas.
"The holidays are often very challenging even under the best of circumstances," Moore said. "We want to make sure that veterans know despite COVID, we are still here, still serving those who served us, and their life matters."
We've Got Your Six Holiday Event 2020
Families of veterans may resister to receive Christmas gifts by visiting www.jeffco.net/vs and clicking the "We've Got Your Six Holiday Event" link. Registration deadline is Nov. 24.
Individuals, families, organizations or businesses may register to sponsor a veteran or the veteran's family by visiting the above link.
Donations must be turned into the Veterans' Services office by 5 p.m. Dec. 14.
For more information or to register, call Laura Moore or Kevin Ellingsburg at Jefferson County Veterans' Services, 541-475-5228.
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