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Community Comes Through For American Veterans First

The New Year not only has people making resolutions but there are also those that are setting new goals with hopes of having a successful and prosperous 2019. Although American Veterans First (AVF) CEO Duke Cooper did not have any New Year resolutions, he said he is looking forward to 2019 and foresees good things, exciting things, and new things for the organization and the local veteran community.

Not only are there new board members at AVF, but they also have some new activities that they will be hosting including a pencil sketch class and art classes. Professional art instructor Robby the Pencil Minstrel will hold the sketch classes and local Stuff and Things Art Studio Owner Alise Frosceno will be hosting some art classes that will be coming soon.

Since the inception of AVF in 2016, there have been several changes with the board of directors, the programs, fundraisers, events, shipping care packages, and a huge feat, gaining their tax exempt status becoming a 501c3 non-profit. AVF is located in Riverbank; however, their assistance extends throughout the Central Valley including Oakdale, Modesto, and Stockton.

Last week, Oakdale Cost Less manager J.R. McCarty and Paul Barraza donated 25 cases of water and 25 cases of cup of noodles to AVF to help the veterans that are going to Modesto Junior College (MJC) and the University of the Pacific (UOP) that are struggling. McCarty is also the new mayor in Oakdale.

Vietnam veteran, AVF board member John Hinkel picked up the donation from Cost Less and delivered them to veteran services at both schools. There was a need that was recognized at MJC and UOP of veterans that were attending classes that could not afford to eat and that are living in their vehicles. During classes as stomachs were growling, AVF and Cost Less got together to help out.

AVF also recently collaborated with the Astro Foundation to begin a Pets 4 Vets program as well as new paint night classes with a connection that was made with the newly opened Stuff and Things Art Studio owner. With ‘Operation Not Forgotten’ AVF supports the troops serving the country with a thank you in the form of a care package for those deployed.

For several months AVF has been collecting blankets and coats for veterans and those in need with a blanket and coat drive. Currently they are accepting donations at the location in Riverbank. Answering a call a little different than their norm was the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) that donated several sleeping bags, blankets, coats, gloves, and cash to help the cause.

“It is really amazing all the support that we have received from the community,” said Cooper. “We have new board members that are really great additions to this organization. I believe there will be a lot of good things on the horizon for AVF and our veterans in 2019.”

With the partnerships with other businesses and organizations, AVF has been able to expand programs, activities, and assistance to veterans and those in need throughout the area.

Register at for the upcoming classes or visit or Facebook American Veterans First.