Compared to 2018, more than double the number of people attended this year’s Oct. 5 Stand Down and Military Appreciation, reported event chairwoman Trina Parrish, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Grant Farmer Post 992.

Altogether, 492 people attended the six-hour gathering in the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds Pavilion: 332 of those were veterans, 45 percent were combat veterans and 55 percent non-combat; 72 men, 28 percent female; and 160 family members.

There was a Quilts of Valor presentation, free breakfast and lunch, housing assistance, homeless services, employment services, mini neck massages with a chiropractor, haircuts, clothing, a VA medical, health and wellness screenings, pharmacy and suicide prevention information.

Most attendees saw notices in the Union-Bulletin, on TV and Facebook, Trina said. Others saw flyers or heard about it through word of mouth.

“It was a great event and an even greater turnout. There was a bouncy castle that was well used by the children. Having food trucks was popular,” Trina said in a release.

Combat Veterans International and Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association assisted with car logistics. “Parking was tight and outside the grounds on the street.” Organizers observed a need for motor carts to transport those with less mobility.

Volunteers helped with many aspects, Trina noted, from serving coffee to preparing meals and running the registration desk. Fifty vendors participated.

Several organizations donated to the effort: Wounded Warrior Project, WWCC Foundation, VFW Department of Washington, Blue Mountain No. 39 Disabled American Veterans, Baker Boyer Bank, Doughty Home for Veteran Women and VFW Post 992.

The event doesn’t happen overnight. Many many people attended meetings throughout the year to prepare and organize for the stand down.

For more details, contact Trina at 509-520-0982. VFW Post 992 is at 102 N. Colville St.

It’s Key Club Week

As president of McLoughlin High School Key Club, Brenely Hernandez is working to draw attention to International Key Club week.

“It’s the time of the year to emphasis the meaning of service,” Brenely said.

Key Club is a group of passionate high school students who help the community out in any way we can. We devote our time to creating a better community through selfless volunteerism,” she wrote.

One of the club’s biggest annual projects is Fill a Backpack, Make a Smile. Before the new school year Key members stuffed supplies into more than 260 backpacks.

The Friday Food Bags program runs throughout the school year. Key members help provide food for students in need over the weekend.

“That means every single Monday we fill up bags with food and have them delivered to schools before the end of the week.” As an ongoing program, Mac-Hi has its own food pantry with storage just for the food bags. “We even won a grant from Nickelodeon and got the opportunity to be on national television,” Brenely said.

They participate in Adopt-A-Highway through the Oregon Department of Transportation. Motorists may have spotted teenagers in bright orange vests and yellow bags on the drive along the highway toward Stateline.

“Yep! That’s us. We clean up trash along the highway four times a year, typically collecting six-eight bags of trash. In the hot sun or with rainy winds, we get the job done no matter the weather.”

She said these are just a few of the group’s annual service projects. “You might see us helping just about anywhere from supervising games at fall festivals to painting benches on Make A Difference Day.”

The group raises funds to support its programs, including the Nov. 12 baked potato feed mentioned in this column Tuesday that will be in Mac-Hi’s cafeteria from 5-7 p.m. for just $5.

Breakfast With Santa is around the corner on Dec. 14. “You and your family can start the morning by enjoy a filling meal provided by Kiwanis Club, Key Club’s parent organization, and decorate cookies where Santa will be to take pictures,” Brenely said. This event will be in Gib Olinger Elementary School between 8 a.m.-noon.

In January the group will host its second annual Walk for Warmth, a walk-a-thon to raise money that assists area residents with their heating bills.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,