When Mexico City Legionnaires visit Casa Rosa de la Torre, the blind girls of the boarding school welcome them as family, greeting them with hugs, kisses and songs.
Casa Rosa de la Torre is special to members of Alan Seeger Post 2, who, together with the American Legion Auxiliary, help support the school with a $200 monthly stipend, plus other donations.
"We give them whatever we can get our hands on," says Dave Pedersen, Post 2's adjutant and the Department of Mexico's service officer.
Casa Rosa de la Torre opened in 1965 and has been managed by Mother Antonina, a nun, since 1995. The school houses 14 girls between ages 4 and 25, along with a 4-year-old boy. They come from poor families, boarding during the week and going home on weekends. Most receive elementary, junior-high and senior-high classes at the school, and a few have gone on to college.
Unfortunately, the Mexican government gives the school only a pittance, Pedersen says. Post 2 calls on friends in the community to obtain nonperishable foods, linens and assorted household items. And with 50-50 raffles, dinners and Auxiliary bingo nights, the veterans see to it the school is able to pay its water, electricity and light bills.
"Some of our members aren't as well off as others, but everybody sticks a hand in their pocket," says Andrew Zgolinski, Post 2 commander. "It's part of being an American and being a veteran."
Every year, Post 2's Legion family hosts a holiday breakfast for the girls of Casa Rosa de la Torre. The girls then put on a small concert – during which, Pedersen says, "there's hardly a dry eye around here."
On Dec. 4, they sang and played piano for Legionnaires and Auxiliary members, then opened Christmas gifts.
One of the girls, 13-year-old Julia, speaks some English and has been at Casa Rosa de la Torre since she was 4. This year, she performed a song she wrote called "Love and Friendship."
"We are grateful to The American Legion," she told the crowd. "We wouldn't have the life we have if we didn't receive this help."
To help support Casa Rosa de la Torre, send donations to American Legion Alan Seeger Post 2, Celaya 25, Colonia Hipodromo Condesa, 06100 Mexico, D.F., or contact Post 2 Adjutant Dave Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org . All contributions are tax deductible.
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