Kyla Becker, 6, and Jackson Davidson, 5, both from Indianapolis, give Santa their full attention during American Legion Post 145's Indiana Blue Star Spirit of Christmas event at the Hendricks County Fairground in Danville, Ind., on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. Photo by Mike Fender/The American Legion

Legion Family members nationwide deliver the holiday spirit

On Saturday, Dec. 16, American Legion Post 145 in Avon, Ind., will host its fourth annual Indiana Blue Star Spirit of Christmas event for 70 children of military and veterans’ families who are in need. The children receive almost everything on their wish list plus clothing and shoes; and the parents are also recipients of gifts. Santa Claus will arrive in a Huey to distribute the gifts and visit with the children.

“It brings extreme joy to every one of us to put a smile on each and every child,” said Indiana Blue Star Chairman and Post 145 member Ralph “Zoc” Zoccolillo.

This December, Legion Family members across the country are delivering presents to children and families to ensure they feel the holiday spirit during this joyous season. A few other holiday-giving examples include:

  • The American Legion Department of Kansas’ Operation North Pole program at Fort Riley Army Base has been providing toys to thousands of military children since 2010. This year, nearly 1,400 military children will receive an age-appropriate gift and have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. About 125 Legion Family members will participate in this year’s program. They dress as their favorite Christmas character, act as Santa’s elves by handing out presents, and serve cookies baked by Auxiliary members. “It’s really rewarding,” said Past National Commander and Department Adjutant Jimmie Foster. “Everybody enjoys it.”

Through donation support, the department spent nearly $18,000 on toys for the children this year, with $10,000 of it coming from the Sons of The American Legion Kansas detachment. The SAL donation “is a huge help,” Foster said.

The event also includes door prizes, face painting, games and family-orientated activities.

  • American Legion Post 16 in Lynchburg, Va., presented 120 stuff animals to the local police department. The animals are to be handed out to child victims of domestic violence, vehicle crashes and other similar incidents during the Christmas season, and beyond, to bring comfort.

  • American Legion Robert E. Coulter Jr. Post 1941 in La Grange, Ill., held its first Toys for Tots drive. The post collected 400 toys and $700 in donations for the program. “No child should wake up on Christmas without a toy,” Post 1941 member Bill Kiddon told the Chicago Tribune.

  • American Legion Costello-Monahan-Brown Post 964 in Pleasant Mount, Pa., sponsors a Christmas in the Village where children get their picture taken with Santa.

  • American Legion Post 42 in Grand Canyon, Ariz., has hosted a Christmas program for children in pre-school through third grade for the past 20 years. The children receive refreshments, sleds made out of candy canes, and knitted scarfs and hats by Legion Family members.

As your Legion Family celebrates the holidays with children and families in the community, whether it's through a Toys for Tots drive, post dinner, charity events or more, please share at www.legiontown.org.