A Colton High School senior decided to treat her Veterans Day not as a day to relax, but as an opportunity to give back to those the holiday is honoring.
Maggie Meyer organized a fundraising fun run and barbecue to support Vets on the Farm, a Spokane program that provides pathways for veterans to enter agriculture careers.
“It not only employs them but it gives them a new mission after they get done serving our country,” Meyer said.
On Thursday, about 40 people answered the call and gathered at Red Barn Farms on Wawawai Road for the 3-mile run.
Meyer said she had already raised $1,500 before the event and was hoping to reach $2,000 by the end.
Meyer said she was inspired to do something to support military members after reading a book in her English class about the Vietnam War.
“I think that really opened my eyes to what veterans have really sacrificed for us,” she said. “It really made me realize that we need to be doing something to help them, to give back to them whenever we get the chance to.”
Meyer said her father works for the Spokane Conservation District, which oversees Vets on the Farm.
“Growing up on a farm, it was the perfect opportunity,” she said. “It was the perfect combination of two different things so I knew that I wanted to choose this program to help give back to veterans.”
Grant Weber, the farm manager for Vets on the Farm, said the program teaches vets how to plant, harvest and sell vegetables. He said one veteran who took part in the program now owns his own farm in Colbert, Wash., and sells at a Spokane farmers market.
Vicki Carter, who is the director of Spokane Conservation District and Vets on the Farm, said the transitional program also allows vets to develop a business plan, get introduced to industry professionals and train with farming equipment.
There about 6-8 veterans at a time on the farm and 20-40 more attend informational meetings put on by the Spokane Conservation District every month, she said.
Weber and Carter were both grateful to Meyer for organizing Thursday’s event.
“This is amazing that Maggie’s doing this for us,” Weber said.
Carter said it speaks to how much veterans mean to people and why Veterans Day is significant.
“This is a day to honor all of our veterans who have served or are serving,” she said. “And I’m glad that we live in a place where we still do that.”
Kuipers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.