SAN ANGELO, Texas — The organization San Angelo Veterans are extending a hand to their fellow men and women deployed in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees. Those who spearheaded the initiative to send donations, Luis Martinez and Leandra Hernandez, are both Air Force Veterans and while they aren’t deployed and cannot strap on boots of their own, they took to Facebook to serve instead. They have asked for help from the people of San Angelo and their efforts have not gone unheard.
“No questions asked, we got your back,” Luis Martinez an Air Force Veteran said.
The call to serve was exactly that, a call. Friends who’re deployed in Afghanistan reached out to Luis Martinez for help.
“They are saying, ‘Hey the C17 Commander and the Chaplain over there are requesting donations,’ because over their materials and supplies are scarce,” Martinez said.
So what materials are needed? For Afghan refugees, things like travel size toothpaste and toothbrushes. Items to be sent through Amazon Prime.
“Things that when you’re leaving your home you don’t necessarily think to grab,” Leandra Hernandez and Air Force Veteran said.
They ask if you do send donation to keep the culture in mind as well.
“For the military side, more caffeine and snacks because they are running around, snacks for the children as well too,” Martinez said. ‘We want to make sure that we are sensitive to their religious preference so nothing that has meat.’
According to Martinez, urgency never ends for those who serve and as soon as he and Leandra Hernandez knew there was a need, they made sure other people did too.
“If someone needs water or some of that we’re going to reach out and give to them, we’re not going to let anyone just go without especially when there’s children and families in need,” Martinez emphasized.
While refugees and the military are in need, many here at home are overwhelmed from negative aspects of the Afghanistan conflict.
“These [donations] are actually a positive thing and instead of sitting there thinking, ‘I wish I could do something,’ now they can,” Hernandez said.
Since the post hit Facebook feeds over the weekend, the people of San Angelo have gone above and beyond what they expected.
“We’ve had people donating bikes with training wheels and stuff for the kids,” Martinez said. ‘So, it’s been going to start to be getting there, and they have been putting it to use.”
For Martinez and Hernandez this isn’t political. They’re not choosing sides; they’re choosing to help.
“There are people in need,” Martinez said. “Doesn’t matter what race, gender, sex, creed or anything they are, doesn’t matter. If they need help, us being veterans, we’re going to be there,” Martinez said.
Luis Martinez and Leandra Hernandez say while the date of when the conflict will end and when troops will be back home is up in the air, they will be lending a hand for however long there is a need.
How you can help: Afghan Refugees
Send items through Amazon Prime to this address: CHAPLAIN AT AL UDEID, QATAR TRAVIS FERGUSON, CHAPLAIN 379 AW/HC UNIT 61201 APO, AE 09309-1201
How you can help: Military Members
Send items through Amazon Prime to this address: C17 Commander at Al Udeid, Qatar 816 EAS Unit 61236 APO, AE 09309-1236