Barbecue raises money for veterans

Students eat burgers and hot dogs at a fundraiser for homeless veterans hosted by We Cypport our Troops (And Each Other) on Sept. 10 on Central Campus.

Emily Barske

Instead of buying a quick lunch from the vending machine or a food truck, students’ and faculty members’ lunch could benefit another. 

We Cypport Our Troops (and Each Other) raised funds for veterans and the homeless. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the organization served lunch to students and faculty on Central Campus for the cause.

The organization and volunteers grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and served fruit, chips and water from Hy-Vee and Fareway. Meals were $5 for students and $10 for faculty.

“The money is going toward the local Veteran Community Gratitude Fund, the Annual Veteran Community Supper and Operation Blanket,” said Matt Barr, member of Cypport Our Troops, who was in charge of the lunch.

The gratitude fund is aimed at serving and recognizing veterans on campus. Operation Blanket is a local project that provides shelter, blankets and clean, dry clothes to the homeless, which has become an issue for many veterans.

This year will be the second annual Veteran Community Supper to recognize veterans and their families. According to Iowa State Veterans Center’s website, last year’s event provided dinner to recognize 280 veterans, active military members and their supporters.

Breanne Kula, president of Cypport, said planning for the event took place during the summer and the plans were finalized at the beginning of this semester.

Barr said volunteers signed up at Iowa State Veterans Center. Kula added that along with the center, the student veterans on campus served as volunteers for the lunch.

“This is going right back to the community that they belong to,” Kula said of the student veteran volunteers. “All of them are very supportive.”

Matt Johnson, a student veteran, volunteered at the event. He believes that all the veteran student organizations support a good cause. Having served in the military from 1997 to 2002, he said his hope for the event was to raise awareness and get more community support.

“People will learn that we actually have homeless veterans,” Johnson said, adding that veterans not only need the support from other veterans but from community members as well. “Hopefully they’ll have empathy. We want to create an interconnectedness.”

Cypport is one of the many campus organizations that deals with veteran affairs. The organization is made up of about a dozen members. Throughout the school year, they have weekly meetings and host volunteer or social events for veterans.

“It’s been really great to have people that understand the ins and outs, the triumphs and challenges of military life,” Kula said. “It’s really special to see the veterans and everyone who loves them come together.”

Cypport hopes to continue raising proceeds for the gratitude fund and Operation Blanket. The Veteran Community Supper will take place on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day. This year, Vietnam veterans will be the focus of the supper.

Cypport would like to continue hosting this event in the future.

“We want to raise enough money to make this a sustainable cookout,” Barr said. “We would like to have this every semester.”