After dozens of veterans showed up to march down Lyons Avenue during the Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative’s inaugural Veteran Backpack Walk on Memorial Day weekend last year, organizers had hoped to make the event an annual occurrence.
This year, unable to do so due to the COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting gatherings, event organizers have gotten creative, turning it into a virtual way to show support for the SCV’s veteran community.
“We have been unable to do our normal types of fundraisers due to COVID, so we wanted to find a way for people to participate safely,” said Jeffrey Stabile, director of business development at the collaborative.
Over the course of a weekend, participants are now invited to download their runner’s bibs and set out on their own Veteran Memorial Backpack Walk, whether that be in their neighborhood, at the park, on a trail or even along the beach, as they march to raise funds for the collaborative.
Participants are encouraged to invite their family, friends or coworkers to either join them or sponsor their walk.
Along their walk, participants can also take videos or photos and send them to the collaborative to be shared on social media as they walk, with special prizes awarded for the most original backpack.
Then upon completion, participants can go to the collaborative’s website and donate the funds they’ve collected.
“We hope the event keeps our name in front of the community, but it doesn’t put too much of a burden on people to donate a certain amount, instead it leaves it up to them … because it’s hard to ask people for money right now,” Stabile added.
That being said, this is the collaborative’s first fundraiser of the year, and proceeds from the event are expected to be utilized to continue outreach efforts to the SCV’s veteran community, providing veterans with baked, packaged and canned goods through the Veteran Center’s food bank, as well as to support the center itself.
The Virtual Memorial Walk is scheduled Aug. 22-23. For more information, visit scv-vets.org/post/virtual-memorial-backpack-walk-august-2020 or call 661-753-3559.