Military Banner BBQ Fundraiser to help honor those who serve!
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: August 30, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
With much fanfare the first series of banners went up in 2008, each one dedicated to an active member of the military with the approximately $150 cost borne by the city, family members or other individuals or donors who only asked that their contribution be used for the program. It was the first Military Banner program in Ventura County, a project suggested by Councilman Bob Gonzales who was inspired by a similar program in Walnut.
Five years later the number of banners has decreased dramatically and more than a dozen of those still flying are frayed and worn. The city can no longer contribute the funds for banners honoring those who serve and the public outreach program has been stilled.
The Santa Paula Firefighters Association decided to help revive the program by staging A Military Banner BBQ Dinner Fundraiser, which will be held Friday, September 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Community Center. The cost of the tasty barbecued chicken dinner - which includes rice, beans, salad and roll - is only $8 each! And, each ticket also includes a $3 coupon for a purchase of any large or x-large pizza from Zapparelli’s.
You’ll be able to stay in your vehicle and just drive through to pick up your dinner, prepared right there by members of the Santa Paula Firefighter’s Association, which also funded the food and packaging.
Said Marleen Canniff who has helped organize the event, “Gary Zapparelli has also shown support by funding the printing of the dinner tickets,” as well as offering the discount on his famed pizza. Canniff noted, “100 percent of the money generated by the sales of the tickets will go to support the Military Banner Program!”
Carlos Lopez is looking forward to the dinner and appreciates the program. The former Marine Sergeant (he served 2002-2010) was deployed in Iraq when Military Banners first started to fly in the downtown area and along 10th Street.
And when he returned to Santa Paula in 2009 from the last of his four deployments to the war zone, Lopez saw the banner dedicated in his name and honoring his service to country while he had been overseas serving as a machine gunner. “We still have it,” Lopez said of the banner that was removed when his active duty with the Marine Corps ended. “We’re actually using it to help out with the barbecue fundraising.”
Lopez said he has been working with Canniff and City Councilman Martin Hernandez, an Air Force veteran who initially asked about the neglected banner program. At numerous events selling barbecue fundraiser tickets “We’re displaying my banner to show the community what their donation is for. Martin and Marleen have been doing a real good job on displaying the banner and selling tickets to the fundraiser,” said Lopez.
Now one of the younger members of the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post #2043 - “Richard Ruiz got me in about 2005 ... he was a wonderful man” - Lopez is a University of Lavern student working on his BA in organizational management while being a single father to Carlos, 9, and Sophia, 8. “I’m pretty sure we’ll get this program up and running again... Santa Paula is wonderful with veterans,” appreciating their service and supporting their ceremonies, causes and activities.
Currently there are 39 banners on display, 19 on the west side of 10th Street and 16 on the east side; Santa Barbara Street has four banners. Of these, 14 need to be replaced. Banners are only for those on active duty and when they leave the military they are gifted with the banner that proclaimed their service.
Canniff, Hernandez and Lopez hope the funding will be raised so a banner can be flown from each of the city’s accommodating fixtures, 86 in all. “I know,” said Lopez, “we’ll get all those banners back up!”
You can purchase tickets for the BBQ Dinner at the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce (200 E. Santa Barbara St.), Best of VC Marketplace (inside the Agriculture Museum, 926 Railroad Ave.), Fria’s (900 E. Main St.) and the Santa Paula Times (120 Davis St.). Tickets will also be sold at Cruise Nite on September 6.
If you wish to make a donation, checks should be made payable to the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation (SPPFF), P.O. Box 162, Santa Paula, CA 93061. Be sure to add “Banners” on the memo line.