By Tamas Mondovics

It was the perfect autumn day for members of the Hillsborough County Code Enforcement, local volunteers, volunteer groups and neighbors to join forces and help out a Brandon area veteran in need on Veterans Day.

Air Force veteran of the Vietnam era, Arthur Gardens received a helping hand from the nearly two dozen who showed up at his home on Caliente Drive and cleaned up his property.

“The work is being done as part of Operation Code Vet, an initiative to help veterans whose homes or property have fallen into disrepair,” said Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Community Outreach Officer, Christine McComb, who led the effort.

McComb explained that Operation Code Vet is a partnership among several different agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses and groups who provide volunteers, equipment, and other resources to fix home and yard problems that otherwise could lead to citations and fines.

Gardens home was no exception, as he was sited four months prior for a number of violations, which due to his poor health and the cost of cleanup and repair became neglected.

“Mr. Gardens’ actually reached out to us for help as his fence needed repaired, his yard mowed and cleaned up as well as a lot of accumulations to be removed,” McComb said.

The busy crew wasted no time as they worked from early morning until midday, to get the job done including power-washing the entire home.

Of course, cleaning up the yard is one thing, maintaining it, and keeping it cared for is another, a reality that did not escape the volunteers attention including next door neighbor Eric Hamilton, a nursing students at HCC, who without hesitation agreed to continue to support his elderly neighbor.

“Mr. Gardens is a great neighbor, but needs some assistance, which I am more than happy to give as I have done in the past,” Hamilton said, adding that the clean up with the help of the County’s Operation Code Vet program is a great jump start.

According to officials, there are nearly three dozen veterans in Hillsborough County who are in need of help to avoid this situation for code enforcement violations.

Individuals or businesses interested in partnering with Operation Code Vet can find more information online at www.HCFLGOV.net.