As we prepare for a new year of serving veterans, servicemembers and their families, I’m reminded of the many ways American Legion members have given back over the past year to support our heroes. A great example is The American Legion Department of Iowa’s radiothon that was held this past Veterans Day, which showed how building relationships with community businesses can financially impact veterans and their families in a positive way at the local and national level.
Thanks to years of establishing a strong relationship with Des Moines, Iowa, radio station 93.3 KIOA, the department and KIOA held a radiothon on Veterans Day to support The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program, raising $18,465. KIOA titled the radiothon "Vets of Valor," and the local First Class Credit Union and Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel partnered for the drive.
The radiothon was held in the lobby of the casino, and five staff members from First Class Credit Union manned the phones for eight hours. KIOA on-air personalities conducted challenges with listeners and advertisers, while 15 Iowa Legionnaires accepted in-person donations.
"It was so much fun," said Kathy Nees, Department of Iowa programs director. "The number of veterans and their families that will be assisted with the funds we raised is why the program is so important, and it’s why KIOA said ‘yes’ to hosting the radiothon on a special day — Veterans Day."
Department of Iowa leadership provided on-air interviews to KIOA’s six sister stations the week prior to the radiothon, explaining the impact TFA has had locally. Since Sept. 11, 2001, TFA has provided more than $200,000 in grants, benefitting 190 Iowa veterans and their families.
"The impact TFA has made locally really struck KIOA as an opportunity where they could continue to make a big difference in the state for veterans’ families," Nees said.
During the radiothon, a few TFA recipient families from Iowa spoke on air about their struggles financially and how the Legion’s TFA program came to their aid in a time of need. One recipient even received his check while on air, which Nees believes empowered more people to call in and donate.
Following the radiothon, additional funding came in through donation boxes placed at First Class Credit Union’s two locations in Des Moines and KIOA challenge donations, bringing the TFA donation total to $19,854.
"Iowans have made great sacrifices to keep our country free and safe, from the warfront to the home front," said Tim Fox, KIOA’s brand manager. "We wanted to do something that showed just how much that sacrifice means to us, and to make things a little easier for the servicemembers who are struggling."
The Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance program is funded through The American Legion Endowment Fund, which was established in the 1920s. Through TFA, a local post can request cash assistance to help maintain the basic needs of veterans’ children. The fund helps families meet the costs of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses when parents are unable, thereby keeping the minor child or children in a more stable home environment. Since Jan. 2014, TFA disbursed grants totaling more than $584,902, benefiting 564 families with 1,265 children.
For TFA eligibility information, visit: www.legion.org/financialassistance