Sabine County VFW Post 10351 & Ladies Auxiliary members and local entities provided meals for more than 1,000 volunteers and supported NASA’s search and recovery efforts in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.
On February 1, 2003 the Sheriff of Sabine County called Post 10351 and requested the VFW be used as a Staging Center for the Shuttle Recovery Mission of Volunteers. The VFW of Sabine County met the challenge and opened their facilities without any reservations for what needed to be done and for the duration of the mission. Members of the Post along with hundreds of volunteers dedicated many hours and thousands of dollars worth of donations to make the Staging Center a success.
The Post fed an estimated 3,000 meals per day for 15 days. They received 85% of their donations for individuals, churches, businesses and nonprofit organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army gave the remaining 15% of donations. The approximate cost of the food donations was about $92,800. The Post members and the Ladies Auxiliary served 11,415 hours for this mission.
The Post Commander and Ladies Auxiliary President were responsible for the organizing the endeavor. With a project so large and so many individuals willing to help, being organized was a key factor. They were responsible for establishing a workable schedule and creating a menu as well as coordinating all the volunteers. They worked around the clock, sleeping whenever they could find a few spare moments.
Because of the dedication of all the Post members, this project went smoothly and ran efficiently. VFW Post 10351 proudly served in this mission and were able to assist the more than 70 agencies which include but are not limited to the Texas National Guard, Department of Public Safety officers, fire fighters, NASA EPA employees, FBI agents, FEMA personnel, Sheriff officers, US Forest Service and Texas Forest Service personnel.
When it was time for a new recovery team to come in, the volunteer services and donations were no longer needed. However, the Post had enough food donations to continue feeding for approximately one week. The remaining food was donated to the United Christian Services, Baptist Encampment, several local fire departments and the Sabine Senior Citizen Center.