In the spirit of giving, the Southwestern College Student Veterans Organization volunteered its time and energy Thursday to help with the annual holiday party at the California Veterans Home of Chula Vista.
With a short staff this year because of the suspension of the Veterans Affair’s work-study program, about 100 volunteers were needed to help ring in the holidays at the California Veterans Home for its 12th annual residential holiday party.
The California Veterans Home at 700 E. Naples Court serves as a housing unit and center for senior veterans.
Hoping to spread some holiday cheer to its 169 residents, the home contacted the Southwestern College Veterans Organization for assistance.
Megan Navarro, coordinator of volunteer services assistant, said the show would have gone on without the volunteers but their help allows the event to run smoothly.
“With the whole home being taken over celebrating this big holiday event, we definitely would have been understaffed and it would have been a stressful time for people who are here working the event,” she said.
Jim Jones, Southwestern College’s veterans services specialist and advisor to the Southwestern College Student Veterans Organization, lined up about 90 volunteers for the event.
Jones, a Marine Corps veteran, not only contacted student veterans on campus but also sent a global e-mail to all Southwestern College students, and also managed to get community members and the Chula Vista Police Department involved.
It really kind of took on a life of its own,” said Jones about the response he got from people seeking to help. “We are very, very pleased with the turnout.”
Jones said it doesn’t surprise him to see the community step up to help its local veterans.
The annual dinner included turkey and ham for senior veterans and their families.
Some volunteer duties included helping in the kitchen washing dishes, setting up and breaking down equipment, performing waiter duties and assisting the veterans with their needs.
Student Veterans Organization President Tim Walsh said volunteering for this event gave him the opportunity to bond with the veterans who came before him.
“It’s rewarding to not only say thank you but also be a part of a celebration together,” Walsh said.
Navarro, 27, a veteran of the U.S. Army, said this is a way for present veterans to honor the veterans of the past and future.
“Our service continues to our community, to our veterans, those who paved the way before us and those that are going to be serving after us,” she said. “It is a very rewarding feeling to see the smiles on our residents’ faces knowing that they could have this traditional Christmas.”