KILLEEN, Texas: The Operation Stand Down Central Texas branch held a “community triage” event Saturday to provide homeless people with essentials like food and clothes.
Operation Stand Down is a national organization aimed at helping homeless veterans, but Saturday’s event was open to all people battling homlessness.
The branch’s founder Joann Courtland, put together the event, held at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
“[Homelessness is] not an easy thing to talk about, it’s not an attractive thing,” Courtland said. “We need to get down to those grass roots efforts to try and get those services to those people.”
Those services included a hot meal and clothes for the winter months. They also included some that are often overlooked, with free haircuts and free STD testing available.
“HIV testing, STD testing, those kind of things are overlooked but we know that it’s rampant in the homeless community,” Courtland said. “We need to make sure we are getting all that information out so people can be aware and take care of themselves.”
Alex Matthews of Central Texas Support Services says coming to events like these is important work for them outside the office.
“We are really looking to help people out who need this kind of service, but I mean I love coming out here and seeing all these people out here to help everyone,” Matthews said. “I think it’s great.”
Over 75 volunteers from around the region came to help out. Most were assigned as escorts to visitors and helped them pick out items and carry their bags for them.
One of the main focuses was to treat the delicate situation with dignity.
“Everyone deserves to be treated like a human being,” Courtland said. “Everyone here today is going to be treated with dignity and respect and they’re gonna get first class service.”
For Courtland, the months and months of planning are all worthwhile in a single moment.
“When I see the big smile and I see them very happy, to me that makes it all worth it,” Courtland said. “I want everybody to be happy that was here today.”
The organization runs on private donations, and you can donate through their website.