Veterans and a guest are invited to attend the 12th annual Veterans Holiday Tribute where local students “actively engage with American Veterans.”
With 1,200 attendees last year, the annual event recognizes the vets, spouses, and widows.
Scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Oak Hills High School, the annual event put on by the Don Ferrarese Charitable Foundation offers a free lunch served by students, several patriotic video presentations, and a car show.
Upon arrival, the veterans are greeted by a 100-foot red carpet, ROTC members, the colors, and a crowd of cheering students. At the end of the red carpet stands an 8-foot statue of Liberty flanked by a fallen soldier.
After entering the building, each veteran is greeted by a student who presents them with a “thank you Veteran” medal and a lapel pin uniquely designed each year. Photos are taken and then handed out at the end of the event.
“We teach the over 300 student volunteers to shake hands and look our veterans in the eye with a proper greeting,” said Don Ferrarese Charitable Foundation President Dan Tate.
The foundation aims to connect students with vets. Oak Hills High and the Hesperia Unified School District are partnering this year with the intention of having the students plan and produce the entire event in the future.
Tate said no politicians are allowed to speak or make announcements and there are no introductions of VIPs.
“The vets are the VIPs so we respect their time. We have put together a moving event where every moment has meaning,” said Tate.
Table sponsorships are still available. A $250 table sponsorship includes 10 guests with 100 percent of the funds going toward the program.
The event not only connects vets with students, but it connects veterans with other veterans.
“Many felt that their mental state of mind was unique unto themselves only to talk to others and find out that they are not alone,” said Tate.
With the number of veteran suicides increasing in the months of November and December, the foundations is purposeful in planning a holiday event to honor and remember those who serve as well as their families.
“I can recall a spouse of one of the veterans telling me this event saved their marriage. Her husband needed to see that he was not alone,” Tate said. “Another veteran told me he was considering suicide until he came and looked into the faces of the students.”
To RSVP for the event, call 760-951-8003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To become a table sponsor, visit www.don-frse.com/veterans/ or call Dan Tate at 760-964-4976.