NEF eclipses $425,000 for Sandy victims

Victims of Superstorm Sandy received a total of more than $425,000 from The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund.  That final total is roughly 80 percent of the total NEF outlay from 2012 through today.

There were 450 American Legion Family members and posts that received funds totaling $426,087. The breakdown:

• New York: 214 claims totaling $164,037

• New Jersey: 234 claims, totaling $261,050

• Delaware: One claim for $500

• Pennsylvania: One claim for $500

Since Jan. 1, there were 325 claims processed for $299,990.

As a department reminder:

• Grant requests must be submitted through the proper channels and reach National Headquarters within 90 days of the date of the disaster.

• Who is eligible for NEF grants? Any paid up American Legion and SAL member, if displaced by the declared natural disaster, can receive a grant to cover temporary housing costs, food and clothing monies as a result of the displacement from the declared natural disaster, not to exceed $1,500.

• Once a grant application is received at National Headquarters from the department it will be processed and, if approved, the check is sent by first-class mail the same day to the member’s department headquarters for distribution by the designated department representative.

• Members can download grant applications and get more information here.

In other news:

Oratorical winner: Agnes Rieger of Kansas City, Mo., was crowned the 2013 champion of The American Legion’s 76th High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, "A Constitutional Speech Contest," on April 20 in Indianapolis. Rieger’s winning oration, "Let’s Talk About Pennsylvania," earned her first place and an $18,000 scholarship. She was sponsored by Legion Post 95.

Second place went to Elizabeth Scannell of Goose Creek, S.C., who was sponsored by Legion Post 166, and earned a $16,000 scholarship for her oration, "The Constitution: An American Position Description."

And third place was awarded to Rachel Schartz of Humboldt, S.D., who was sponsored by Legion Post 62 and earned a $14,000 scholarship for her oration, "Sewing Freedom."

In all, 53 department winners took home a total of $136,500 in scholarship money. The contest was held for the first time at the Indianapolis Wyndham West.

Education: National Headquarters staff met with representatives of the Samsung Corporation Corporate Responsibility Team on April 24 to review the current relationship through which Samsung provides scholarships to youth through the Samsung American Legion Scholarship and to explore opportunity for an enhanced relationship. The Samsung Corporate Responsibility Team made it very apparent to National Headquarters staff that they would like to learn more about all American Legion youth programs and American Legion charities in order to determine how the two organizations can possibly expand their future endeavors together.

2014 American Legion Membership Cards: This year’s card has a picture of Mount Rushmore as the watermark. Shipment has begun for the 2014 cards. So far the departments of Mexico, Ohio, Kansas, Alaska, Florida and Wisconsin have shipped.

American Legion Riders: The Department of South Carolina, for the second year, has conducted a statewide Legacy Run to kick off the fundraising for 2013. The run started April 20 and ended after 600 miles on April 21. South Carolina was the top fundraising department in 2012 with approximately $60,000 in donations raised by Riders for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund.

Operation Comfort Warriors: This week Operation Comfort Warriors received requests from Oklahoma and Michigan. Both were forwarded to their respective departments for follow-up.

Membership and DMS Program

The current 2013 traditional membership total is 1,911,324, which is 95.755 percent of the 2013 goal.

The 2013 membership year began on July 1, 2012. The fourth DMS mailing for the 2013 membership year was completed on Feb. 4. Approximately 1.6 million pieces were mailed at that time. Responses from that mailing are now being processed.

Based on the four DMS mailings this year, we have acquired: 94,829 prospects, 77, 258 expires, 172,087 total.

2013 Goal – 185,000 (93 percent of goal)

Current Renewal Rate for 2012 DMS Members — 48.82 percent (92, 559 of 189,685 new 2012 members)

Sons of The American Legion

The Sons of The American Legion membership for 2013 currently stands at 318,410 members or 90.1 percent. At present, the Sons are running 623 members ahead of this same date last year.

The next SAL National Update Newsletter is being printed and should be mailed in early May. Hard copies of this newsletter will be available for the spring National Executive Committee meeting in Indianapolis.

The third and final SAL renewal postcard mailing for the 2013 membership year is also being processed and should be mailed within the next week. Over 83,000 Sons postcards are being mailed for this final renewal mailing which should put the Sons at 100 percent in membership by National Convention.