The Saddleback Community Giving Back

The 53 Thanksgiving Baskets Collected for Student Veterans

We have a great deal to be thankful for at Saddleback College, especially everything the students and employees do each and every day to give back to the community. Over the past couple of weeks there have been some remarkable efforts that underscore our campus’ spirit of giving.

The Classified Senate led by co-chairs Tracy McConnell and Cathy Beres sponsored the 3rd annual ‘Giving Thanks’ to Saddleback student veterans.  With donations of over 5,000 non-perishable food items from students, faculty, staff, and management, they were able to present 53 overflowing Thanksgiving baskets to student veterans. In addition, contributions of gift cards and cash enabled each recipient to buy a turkey and all the fixings needed to create a complete family holiday meal.

The Associate Student Government sponsored a turkey drive to raise funds and food for student families in our Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS).  The students raised $951 and collected over 3,050 food items including six turkeys donated by a former ASG member. Their efforts provided enough food for a traditional thanksgiving dinner for over 20 families,.

The college’s student services division developed a partnership with Helping Hand Worldwide to provide free groceries each month for some of our students and veterans in need and to raise awareness about hunger in our community. Their first grocery distribution was on November 7th that served 48 students, with distributions occurring on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month in Lot #1 between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.  This group effort was led by Jeanne Harris-Caldwell, Terence Nelson, Joyce Semanik, Lisa Inlow, Sholeh Alizadeh, Erin Long, and Leslie Humphrey.

These efforts and many more across campus make important contributions to our students’ success and supporting our community at large.  We greatly appreciate the work and contributions from hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and management.

Saddleback College Honors Veterans Day at Moving Ceremony

(L-R) Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president, Saddleback College; Terence Nelson, dean of transfer, career, and special programs; Kolin Williams, VETS counselor and Army veteran; Nick Martinez, student veteran; Gary Poertner, chancellor, SOCCCD; Dr. James Wright, SOCCCD Board of Trustees member and Air Force veteran.

Student Amanda Strader Sings the National Anthem

On Thursday, November 8th, Saddleback College veterans were honored in a moving ceremony hosted by the Veterans Education Transition Services (VETS) Center at the college’s veterans memorial.  The event was attended by South Orange County Community College District Chancellor Gary Poertner, Saddleback College President Tod Burnett, faculty, staff, and administrators of Saddleback College, and veterans from Saddleback College and the community.  Amanda Strader, a student at the college, sang the national anthem.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. James Wright, a member of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees and a retired colonel of the United States Air Force.  In a stirring tribute to veterans, Dr. Wright stated, “This is a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and especially those who have fallen.  They are our war heroes.”

Speaking of the services provided to veterans at Saddleback College, Dr. Wright stated, “Veterans are one of our greatest untapped resources.  They are self-sufficient, they understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good; they have lived it.  They think globally.  They are the role models we need at our colleges.  We owe them our gratitude and the chance to have meaningful careers.”  To read Dr. Wright’s speech in full, click here.

Dr. James Wright

Dr. James Wright

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice, which does not go unnoticed at our college.  This group of men and women never fail to impress all of us at the college; not only have they risked their own lives for their country, but are typically model students and citizens who display great leadership and compassion.  They are a prized group on our campus and it is our pleasure to serve them.”

Nick Martinez

Nick Martinez, a Saddleback College student who served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, stated, “My fellow veterans: You have been part of the world’s bravest and toughest force.  Today let’s celebrate the acknowledgement of our sacrifice, the many thank-you’s, love, and support.”

Kolin Williams, a counselor in the VETS Center and a veteran of the United States Army, served as master of ceremonies and stated, “For many veterans, the transition to civilian life can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but with that challenge can come great achievement.  We are proud of our veterans and thank them for their service.”

Veterans Club Serves and Supports Homeless Veterans

Saddleback Student Veterans Give Back (Photo Courtesy of Virginia Johnson)

Before fall classes started, the Saddleback College Veterans Club was already giving back to the community. On the weekend of August 17th, sixteen student veterans joined forces with several organizations and government agencies at the Orange County Stand Down to serve and support homeless veterans. The Second Annual Orange County Stand Down was a three-day event that took place at the Army Reserve Center in Costa Mesa. Services, including mental and physical healthcare, benefits and housing assistance, children’s services, and showers and meals, were available for homeless and at-risk veterans as well as their families.

The Saddleback student veterans assisted the event by monitoring the showers, taking out trash, providing security at the entrances, providing water for all attendees, and providing other necessary tasks. All of the students were recognized at the event for their effort. The event was coordinated by Jacob Lampe, vice president of the Saddleback College Veterans Club.