By Daniel Ritz

In addition to the athletic competitions, costume contests and entertaining mascots, the Dana Point Turkey Trot, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, continues to honor the traditional social values of Thanksgiving.

The Dana Point Chamber of Commerce will carry out its long-standing tradition of donating 100 percent of the event’s proceeds to nonprofit community partners that help strengthen the community through educational and service programs. This year, the Dana Point Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9934 and Family Assistance Ministries have been selected as the beneficiaries of profits from this nationally-recognized event.

Thanking Our Veterans

Dana Point’s VFW Post #9934 is a highly-recognized post, regularly winning awards for their top-notch care of the region’s veterans. As a beneficiary last year, the post received over $10,000 from the funds raised at Turkey Trot.

Wayne Yost, VFW Post #9934 Commander, explained that the money goes into a general fund that assists veterans in a wide variety of social, educational and economic manners.

For example, VFW Post #9934 supports more than 3,300 families located at Camp Pendleton, largely as the official “sponsor” of Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG 39), a United States Marine Corps aviation unit.

With a large number of the men and women in MAG 39 currently deployed, VFW post #9934 provides necessary assistance to those Marines and their families that remain on the ground here at home.

This year, MAG 39 will be making a special appearance in the Dana Point Turkey Trot, as Sgt. Major Valerie A. Camacho has gathered 11 female members of MAG 39 that will partake in the day’s activities.

“The ladies within the MAG are working together to better our relations with the community, along with our sisters in the Corps. Throughout the year, we plan to organized events in support of empowering the ladies within the MAG. We had our first leadership symposium in August of this year in order to assist in the development of the ladies personally and professionally.”

Giving Back With FAM

Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) is a faith-based nonprofit organization based in San Clemente with a satellite location in Dana Point that assists those in need with resources such as food, shelter and personalized support counsel aimed towards bridging the gap from dependency to self-sufficiency.

Last year alone, FAM was able to transition seven Dana Point individuals into permanent housing.

FAM Executive Director Mary Gray Perdue, a member of Dana Point’s Homeless Task Force, pointed out that in addition to providing essential assistive care to the homeless, a “housing first” approach has been proven in recent studies to cut the costs of homelessness by up to 50 percent.

“At FAM, we recognize that homelessness isn’t black and white. We need to be fluid; we need to be mobile. We are so grateful for the support of the Chamber of Commerce in this donation and continuing our mission,” Perdue said.

Dana Point VFW Post #9934 and Family Assistance Ministries encourage the community to stop by their respective booths at Turkey Trot where more can be learned about the organizations’ activities and services.

Visit the Dana Point Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9934’s website at www.vfwpost9934.org and Family Assistance Ministries’ website at www.family-assistance.org

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