Local Heroes Get Patriot Day “Thank You’s”
Santa Clarita’s 13th Annual Patriot Day Event was held on Saturday, September 9 at College of the Canyons Student Cafeteria in Valencia, a new venue this year. Hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military and COC’s Veteran’s Resource Center, in remembrance of 9/11, community members of all ages gathered to make “Thank You” cards for local First Responders and prepare care packages for local troops overseas. The Student Cafeteria tables were filled with excitement as children from the area, including 15 teens from Placerita Jr High School, expressed their appreciation to Santa Clarita’s deployed troops, firefighters, paramedics and Sheriff’s Deputies. The event was all about showing gratitude to the Heroes that save lives and protect us every day. These heartfelt cards, along with others made earlier by local schools, will be delivered to area stations, and the military cards were tucked right inside the care packages made for local deployed troops. Two of these special soldiers, Evon Kuykendall and Travis Lepine, former SCV Young Marines that worked closely with the Prayer Angels and the community, will now be receiving support and heartfelt care packages from their own hometown team. Plans are in progress to team up again with additional events to support our local troops at the college.
Everyone had a hand in preparing 67 care packages at the event, filled to the brim with necessities, treats and well wishes. Community members brought donations and dropped them off in advance. Lots of support and plenty of goods came from the COC students, along with the Veterans Resource Center. Director of the center, Renard Thomas, an Iraq veteran, and his staff worked with Suzon Gerstel, President of Prayer Angels for the Military, planning the event and ensuring plenty of space. One of the Prayer Angels, Mary Martin, the widow of WWII veteran John Martin, is always touched by the comraderie at all of their packing events. Maggie-Mae Laufman came out to help. Gold Star parents, Assemblyman Dante Acosta and his wife Carolyn, a Prayer Angel, were also there to help and included their blessings to our troops in harm’s way.
The care packages from the Patriot Day events were sent “In Loving Memory” of Santa Clarita’s 11 hometown soldiers and marines that died in service to our country, post 9/11. Honored were Robert M. “Robby” Wilson, Dean Glen Todd Jr, Richard P. “Ricky” Slocum, Cole W. Larsen, Jose Ricardo “Ricky” Flores-Mejia, Dennis L. Sellen Jr, Stephen E. Colley, John Michael Conant, Ian Timothy D. Gelig, Jake W. Suter and Rudy A. Acosta.
Patriot Day at Richard Rioux Park, a 9/11 Remembrance and Troop Drive in Stevenson Ranch, took place on Monday evening, September 11th. Hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military with the Park Senior Club, it included a collection drive to fill care packages for local troops overseas. Special guest speaker Josie Sandi, a Marine veteran and District Rep. for Congressman Steve Knight, shared some experiences and answered questions. Santa Clarita Councilmember Bill Miranda came out to support the event that reflected on 9/11, honored our first responders and supported our servicemembers. Kids were eagerly coloring pictures with special notes for our troops. Patti Ryan of Prayer Angels said about a dozen of the kids attending were Brownies from Troop 512. Also, very busy was two year old artist, Juliette, daughter of local marine Sgt. David Gonzalez. A lot of beautiful “Thank You’s” were made for the 2nd batch of Patriot Day care packages shipping out to our troops in Afghanistan.
Local businesses and community members of all ages are encouraged to support our local troops, through the local (501c3) non-profit Prayer Angels for the Military, organizers of community packing events for 14 years. Contact Suzon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-799-8865 for additional information, sign up for packing dates, set up business participation, add a troop name or get notification of upcoming events.
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