Community leaders from across Southern California stopped by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County's warehouse in Santa Maria for a massive donation on Wednesday. But it wasn't all about food.
"This is just like a really great Christmas gift, and we are so excited to do this today," said Pam Gnekow, CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach.
"I am a veteran myself. I am a US Army Ranger. I got started in this trying to help myself. I ended up helping other people and that helped me," said Ronnie Imel, founder of Veterans Paying it Forward.
On Wednesday, Gnekow, Imel, and volunteers from several other local and statewide organizations dedicated to supporting veterans loaded up their vans with storage boxes filled with more than 2,500 brand-new pairs of athletic shoes donated by Pierce Footwear. The groups will then hand distribute those shoes to men and women veterans in their communities.
Jim Lineberger, Executive Director of the Valley Community Pantry in Hemet, California, says while he is not a veteran himself, he recognizes the need for support.
"Those are the people that paid their debts to society over the years. That is why we are doing what we do now, because of their sacrifice of serving," Lineberger told KSBY.
But along with new shoes, Jamie Diggs with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County says there are other ways veterans can receive necessities.
"We distribute food at different locations like the VA Clinic, Vandenberg Space Force Base, at the Santa Ynez Community Outreach — they have a veteran's pantry there," Diggs said.
"The shoes are just a huge bonus because now we can give them a present," Gnekow added.
If you are a veteran in need of support, you can find other resources from the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County by clicking here.