Battlefront 2 Homefront, an organization helping local veterans, held its first event "An Oldtime Christmas" earlier this month and raised more than $8,400 for veterans in Pulaski, Texas, Phelps, Camden, Maries, Laclede, and Miller counties, as well as the Warrior Transition Unit Fort Leonard Wood.
During the event held on Dec. 1 at the Old Waynesville Middle School, Spirit FM of Springfield donated $3,000 and the event's live and silent auctions raised approximately $4,500, according to Marla McGowan, the organization's president.
"Looking back now, of course I was surprised [at the turnout], but I would say I am more thankful more than anything that our communities believed in an idea so new, and so wonderful at the same time, she said. "At the center of it, I mostly need to say thank you to all those that have been a huge part of this event from the concept to the execution of it all."
McGowan estimates that roughly 1,400 to 1,600 people attended the event.
"That many people is an outstanding number for a first-year event; much less the first event ever for the organization," she said.
During the event, eight representatives from the Missouri Veterans Affairs were available for current military and veterans to ask questions and concerns about the VA. McGowan said that it was the first time in Pulaski County History that many representatives from the VA were in Pulaski County. McGowanwas very satisfied with the amount of traffic the VA tables received.
"Every time I came around the Veteran Affairs (VA) tables, they were always covered in people asking questions, which is exactly what I was aiming for during the event," she said. "I wanted Veterans to feel free to come and see a representative, and not have a hesitation about it in the least or feeling as if they had to schedule an appointment like they usually would have to do."
Marla McGowan and her husband, Jon, started Battlefront 2 Homefront in July after going through personal struggles with contacting the VA and realizing that many veterans in this area need help.
Marla McGowan said that she is very excited for the further of this organization.
"The fact that our first event is over means means two things. First, we can go on to the next important step of assisting local Veterans," she said. "Secondly, we can begin to shoot for an even better outreach for our area Veterans throughout the year and/or making this one even better for next year."