Where it all started….
Bro. James “Jake” & Shirley Sanford
I was born about four miles northeast of Seminary, Mississippi on September 30, 1935, therefore I am 74 years of age. My parents were Mary and Wilmer Sanford. At birth I was named James Carroll Sanford. As I grew older I was nicknamed “Jake” by my friends and family. I was the oldest of five brothers.
My father and mother moved to Mobile, Alabama when I was about four years of age. This was in 1939. We lived there during WWII. As a young boy, I was taught love of country and patriotism by example; our nation was at war against those who would enslave the world. I watched as young men and women went off to war to preserve their country’s freedom. I saw many mothers and fathers weep as they received news of their sons and daughters being wounded or killed in battle.
As the war ended, we moved back to Seminary, Mississippi in 1945. My father began farming and my brothers and I began school at Seminary Attendance Center and I graduated there in 1954. As a teenager, I watched again as many went to serve in Korea; and again, with a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart, I saw fathers and mothers weeping. These two wars in my early life touched me more deeply than I realized at the time.
After graduating from high school, I joined the US Army in August of 1954. I spent the first 8 weeks in basic training at Camp Gordon, GA. After finishing basic training , I was given a short leave to return home. While home on October 18th of 1954 I married my high school sweetheart, Shirley Jean Revette; we have been married now for over 62 years. My next training was at Fort Leonard Wood, MO learning how to disarm booby traps and land mines .Shortly before Christmas of 1954 our battalion left for duty in Korea. Thankfully, our orders were changed while waiting for transportation at Fort Lewis, WA. We were given a choice of different schools overseas. I chose a school in Japan. After a short period of training at Eta Jima, Japan I was given orders to report to the 8th Army headquarters at Camp Zama, Japan. After arriving there, I learned that it was also the Headquarters of all the Armed Forces of the Far East I spent the next 2 years there processing classified communications.
After my tour there was over, I returned stateside; I spent Christmas of 1956 in route home. I got home in early January of 1957. After a short leave home, Shirley and I left for Fort Holabird, the then U. S. Army Intelligence Center located in Baltimore, MD; it was closed in 1970. After serving three years in the Army, I was discharged as a Specialist 2nd class on August 4, 1957. After I was discharged, I returned home and took a job in New Orleans, La. After working there for about one year I again returned home and became employed by my uncle in a television and appliance store.
Then came the Vietnam War– I remember the shame I felt for our country because of the way so many treated our military men and women as they returned home. Instead of a hero’s welcome, they were jeered and booed. Again, because of the love in my heart, I was moved with compassion for our veterans.
I grew up attending a small Southern Baptist country church. I became a deacon in that church in my early thirties and would at times fill in for our pastor when he ask it of me. At about age forty, I left the Baptist Church and became non-denominational. At age 41 I was called of the Lord to enter the ministry and two years later my church ordained me. Later I became the pastor of that same church. Most of my adult life, I earned a living for my wife, two sons and two foster daughters in retail business. My brother and I were partners in business for a number of years; in 1990 I became independently self-employed by owning my own retail business. By the age of 65 I owned four different retail stores; I sold all of them and retired at the age of 67.
When I was age 65, I helped start a non-denominational church named Grace Outreach Church of Seminary, and at the same time, inspired by a compassion for our veterans, I began my volunteer work at the MS State Veterans Home in Collins, Mississippi. Now was the time to share my spiritual blessing with those whom I felt I owed so much. For the past 16 years, I have been a volunteer pastor at the veterans home and the Director of a wonderful group of volunteers that we named Veterans OutrReach.
Many of the veterans arrive at the Home medically, indigent and in need of clothing and other necessities of life. Some are very aged and have no family to visit, comfort or help them in any way. Veterans Outreach is an all volunteer group formed to provide aid, comfort and an atmosphere of caring for the veterans residing in the home in Collins.
Our mission is to provide spiritual guidance and counseling and to furnish goods and services not otherwise supplied by the state of MS. We have worked with the administrative staff—they inform us of the needs and we endeavor to supply them. In the past, we have purchased clothing, personal care items, CD players, microwave ovens, refrigerators, 20–8 ft. folding tables, folding chairs, picnic tables, grills, swings, recliners, couches and other furniture to create a more comfortable environment. We have furnished many “home cooked” meals, game machines, games and etc. In 2021, we purchased shower chairs—this year we purchased a whirlpool therapy tub complete with reservoir valued at over $17,000 delivered and installed. Most all, if not all, of the durable items purchased are still in use. In other words, what we have given is still giving—thus we have helped past, present and future residents with these purchases.
My plans for the future is to continue to inform our community of our veterans needs and to encourage the community spirit of caring and giving and to recruit more volunteers to work with the current members of Veterans OutReach to ensure that the work on behalf of our veterans will continue. A love for God, my country, family, friends and our veterans is the force that motivates me and gives me strength to do the ministry my Lord has set before me. In my lifetime, I have been made rich with a beautiful family, wonderful friends and the pleasure of having known some of our greatest heroes—our veterans.
– James “Jake” C. Sanford –
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Veterans OutReach of Mississippi
P.O. Box #2058
Collins, MS 39428
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Veterans Outreach is an officially registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the state of Mississippi.