The Valley once again came through for its veterans at Christmas as a program sponsored by Fresno Pacific University in partnership with AMVETS Department of California generated thousands of greetings for those who served.
“Operation ‘Dear Veteran’” resulted in just over 3,000 cards being delivered to the Fresno VA Medical Center and the Veterans Home of California. Each card was individually signed and contained a message to the veteran.
Faculty and staff at each of FPU’s five campuses—Merced, North Fresno, the main campus in Southeast Fresno (including Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary), Visalia and Bakersfield—aided in the effort. But they had plenty of help, from card collections made by more than 10 pre-schools, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools including Sunnyside High School in Fresno and several in Kerman Unified School District. In addition, the Fresno Police Department participated in the delivery.
“I’m so proud of our community’s participation. We will definitely continue this tradition since it was once again overwhelmingly supported and welcomed!” said Denise Baronian, FPU executive director of regional enrollment and head of the project.
Last year’s maiden effort resulted in cards for 1,500 veterans from individuals, families, elementary schools and churches—more than triple the amount organizers then hoped for. “I get emotional when I see how our communities respond toward supporting our Valley veterans,” Baronian said.
FPU has about 100 students who are veterans of the U.S. military. David Black, FPU veteran outreach and student service coordinator, and others work to make sure they are served and feel included by the university. “Being a veteran myself, I always enjoyed receiving and reading cards from complete strangers; just knowing we were not forgotten,” stated Black. Black is also junior past commander of California AMVETS and District VI commander nationally. Through that organization he has provided support to the VA Medical Center and knows how many local hospitalized veterans.