SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Volunteers hosted the "Vets for Pets" pet food and supply drop off fundraiser at Balboa Park June 17.
All donations will go to a variety of different service providers, including Father Joe's Villages, to aid homeless veteran pet owners in the San Diego area.
Army Veteran Mark A. Barlett, and Marine Corps Veteran David Arambula teamed up with James Elia, and Dave A. Myers to organize the event. They advertised through social media, the local news, and newspapers to request items such as pet food, leashes, toys, kennels, and blankets. Their efforts included a month-long online fundraiser.
"Pets provide such comfort to all of us," said Meyers, "Our [veterans] sacrificed so much, the least we can do is give back to them."
Arambula explains his personal connection with the underserved veterans they're providing for.
"As veterans, the core values follow us long after we separate," said Arambula, "No matter an individual's circumstance, no one can take away a veteran's title. It all boils down to taking care of our own."
Thoughout the afternoon, dog park visitors and patrons dropped off pet supplies at the Balboa dog park location to support the campaign. Many have loved ones who served or have served themselves, such as Perry T. Yee, a Navy veteran, former SEAL and CEO of Active Valor, a non-profit who creates a community for veterans transitioning out of the military.
"I know how important a dog is in a person's life," said Yee. "My dog saved me when I got out of the Navy, so if we can help other groups in our community that share same passion, we're all in."
Andrea B. Bamsky, a chiropractor that treats patients with PTSD and other anxiety disorders, contributed and inspired one of her patients to donate as well.
"My wife is a Marine veteran," said Bamsky. "We have a lot of veterans in our community that are financially challenged and I just wanted to show my support."
According to the Regional Task Force on the homeless report in 2016, San Diego has seen a 19 percent increase of homeless citizens.
"The power of community showed up today," said Bartlett. "We have the power to be the change we want to see in the world."
The event succeeded with 1400 pounds of dog food, a significant amount of other pet supplies, over 2 thousand dollars in donations that will go to pet vaccines and other treatments.
For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element, visit www.navy.mil/local/npasehq/.