(CBS) — Nearly 600 homeless military veterans in the Chicagoland area converged on Douglas Park Saturday to receive a helping hand.

It’s called a Veterans Stand Down, where homeless vets receive donations of things like food, supplies, bus passes and a variety of other items.

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This is the third year A Safe Haven Foundation has held the event and hosted a variety of companies and vendors who donate items for the veterans. President and Co-Founder Neli Vazquez Rowland says the event goes far beyond donations.

“The goal here today is really to meet them where they’re at, connect them to all of the services that are available throughout the city of Chicago, in a way that’s going to be available to them uniquely and in a way that’s going to help them solve their issues with poverty and homelessness,” Rowland says.

Those services include medical and dental screenings, housing assistance and meeting with possible employers.

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Eddie Muhammad, a Case Manager with A Safe Haven Foundation and a Vietnam veteran, says events like this make him feel good.

“To see these guys who have fell down on their luck, some of them, and some of the guys who have bounced back with the help of A Safe Haven,” Muhammad says. “It makes me feel good that A Safe Haven has taken the time out and took the initiative to sponsor something like this.”

Muhammad, who was homeless for 30 years prior to coming to A Safe Haven, and the foundation’s CEO and co-founder Brian Rowland say their advice to other homeless veterans struggling to get by, is to reach out to the numerous community resources for a helping hand.

 

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