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IVC News > September 12, 2018

Backpacks for Veterans Takes an Army of Volunteers

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Student Veterans Jaron Cofield (l) and David Forbes (r)

Last week, one hundred backpacks stuffed with school supplies were distributed to deserving veterans who are pursuing their education. The North Face backpacks, which included a host of school supplies such as index cards, scantrons, writing utensils, lab notebooks, student planners and more, were purchased with donations from The Exchange Club of Tustin, a longtime supporter of student veterans at IVC.

The project was a group effort that started when The Exchange Club of Tustin reached out to IVC over the summer asking how they could help serve veterans’ needs on campus. Together, they asked members of Tustin American Legion Post 227 to volunteer time to put the backpacks together with the supplies for the veteran students.

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The Exchange Club of Irvine and American Legion Post 227 filling the donated backpacks. Photo by John McGuire.

“It takes a village to support any college student,” said Nancy Montgomery, Assistant Dean of Health, Wellness and Veterans Services. “More so with vulnerable populations, such as veterans, who need support and so much more once they are discharged. The goal is to provide a positive start for veterans starting college and this is a great start to a new goal in their life.”

The backpacks were distributed to student veterans at their fall orientation on Friday, September 7. Members of the Exchange Club of Tustin took time away from work to meet the student veterans and hand them the backpacks personally.

“As veterans and students, we have been forced to become financially independent and the small things really add up,” said David Forbes, an English major at IVC and Marine veteran. “Many of us are just making ends meet while we’re in school, so receiving these backpacks and supplies helps us to be able to focus on paying for groceries and living expenses.”

Irvine Valley College serves over 850 veterans each year, from all branches of the military. Veterans Services at IVC has received several multi-million-dollar grants for their success in creating best practices that support veterans to graduation. Sixty-one percent of IVC student veterans have served in combat zones.

“All veterans have sacrificed something during their time in the military – a lot of life has been missed out on," David said."For others to recognize and value the work we did for our country is pretty important.”

The Veterans Services Center at Irvine Valley College was opened in 2013 to nurture a welcoming campus culture for students who have served in the military. The Center’s services include academic counseling, peer support, mentoring and a focus on wellness. The counselors and support staff also help students make the best use of the VA resources and campus support services.

“Receiving this [gift] is humbling,” student veteran Jaron Cofield said. “I don’t know that I deserve it, but I appreciate it very much.”

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The donors and volunteers after filling the student veterans backpacks​. Photo by John McGuire.​

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