Santa Barbara County’s 2022 Veterans Stand Down is officially set for Oct. 15 after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a contract with the Santa Maria Fairpark to provide the venue at a cost of $7,411.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who got the county’s Stand Down started 10 years ago, acknowledged the Fairpark for keeping the costs down and noted no taxpayer dollars are involved, as all expenses are covered by donations.

“The Fairpark was chosen because it will provide a safe enclosed area with on-site showers and restrooms and large grassy areas for MASH tents and mobile dental, medical and counseling units,” Lavagnino said in a report to the board.

“The service providers, clothing distribution and hair stylists will set up in the Park Plaza building,” he said. “The Fairpark also provides easy access for chow lines and picnic tables.”

Lavagnino said he and staff member Sandy Agalos, the Veterans Stand Down coordinator, modeled Santa Barbara County’s event after one started in 1988 in San Diego.

“Basically, it’s a day to show our veterans how much we care about them,” he said.

Open to all veterans and their families, the Stand Down provides basic needs, including food, clothing, personal care items, haircuts, showers, health care, veterinary services for pets and assistance with housing and education.

Lavagnino said the Santa Maria Elks Lodge serves veterans free breakfast and as many as 700 free lunches each year, with all the meat donated by the Santa Barbara County Cattlemen’s Association.

He said many county employees and their families volunteer, with some of them having helped every year for 10 years.

Coordinated transportation to the Stand Down is provided throughout San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, Lavagnino said.

This year, the event has partnered with Walmart to make it easier for people to donate items the Stand Down needs.

Donations can be made by visiting https://sbcountystanddown.com and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page, which will open the Walmart donation page that contains a list of items and their prices.

“All they need is your credit card,” Lavagnino said, noting Walmart will ship the items selected directly to the Stand Down.

The Stand Down website also provides ways to make monetary donations and information about transportation and volunteering as well as contacts for more information.

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