Giving back while giving thanks

As friends and families gather together on Thanksgiving, American Legion Family members across the nation will be giving up at least part of their holiday to ensure others in the community are served both a meal and a helping of camaraderie.

Once again, American Legion posts will open their doors – or, in some cases, take to the road – to serve Thanksgiving dinners to others. Some will ensure families in need have a hot meal, while others take in military personnel stationed far from home to give them a sense of family for the day.

American Legion Riders in different states performed the same mission prior to Thanksgiving: helping local veterans and families in need. In Polk City, Iowa, Legion Riders Chapter 232 this week began delivering Thanksgiving meals through their Holiday for Heroes program. More than 80 area veterans will get a complete Thanksgiving meal that they can prepare in their own homes for family and friends.

“Some of these guys are struggling to get through every day, so if we can help that and make their day special for Thanksgiving that’s what we wanted to do,” ALR Chapter 232 Vice President Chad Rumbaugh told channel WHO-13.

And in Fountain, Colo., Legion Riders Chapter 38 again hit the streets, last weekend delivering turkey dinners to 100 needy families in their community. The post also hosts an annual dinner for families in need on Thanksgiving. Fountain Police officers identified families, veterans and seniors who were needing a little extra help this holiday season. Fundraising efforts by both the Riders and the entire Post 38 Legion Family pay for the dinners.

Posts in Illinois and Texas are providing Thanksgiving meals to active-duty military and recruits. In San Antonio, William J Bordelon Post 300 annually provides a “taste of home” meal for 100 technical school students stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and area veterans.

And in Illinois, American Legion posts in Palatine (Post 690) and Morton Grove (Post 134) host sailors from Great Lakes Naval Station for a Thanksgiving meal and provide the opportunity for their guests to call or email home free of charge throughout the afternoon.

"It is our goal to provide to these young men and women a memory that will stay with them their entire life," Auxiliary Unit 690 member Sue Hallsten, the project chairman, told the Daily Herald.

The following is a sampling of what American Legion Family members will be doing to help others enjoy Thanksgiving. We ask that if you have a story and photos of your post’s event, please share it at www.legiontown.org.

Arizona

• Morgan McDermott Post 7 in Tucson is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for its members, neighbors, veterans in blind and general rehab from the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, and homeless veterans.

• For what is believed to be the 91st year in a row, volunteers from historic Luke-Greenway American Legion Post 1 in Phoenix will be serving veterans and the homeless of its downtown community on Thanksgiving day. All food is donated, prepared and served by members of Post 1.

California

• Big Bear Lake American Legion Post 584 served as a collection point for canned foods and other non-perishable food items donated by Big Bear High School students that the post will use to assemble Thanksgiving baskets for families in need throughout the area. Bear Valley Electric donated 20 turkeys to the effort. At least 22 families have signed up to receive the baskets.

• Amador Post 108 in Sutter Creek, along with its Auxiliary unit and community volunteers, will host a Thanksgiving luncheon.

Connecticut

American Legion Post 113 in Old Saybrook will serve Thanksgiving dinner.

Florida

• Post 323 in Lehigh Acres is serving Thanksgiving dinner.

• All are welcome to attend Post 402's Thanksgiving dinner in Panama City Beach.

• American Legion Post 233 in Palm Valley will serve dinner. The post also collected food donations and gift cards for some local families in need.

• American Legion Post 137 in Jacksonville will have a Thanksgiving Day Dinner for its members, area veterans and any guests they wish to bring. The dinners have been going on for more than 20 years and typically feed 100 or more people.

Maryland

American Legion Post 227 in Brandywine hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for post members, veterans and community families.

Massachusetts

In Boxford, American Legion Post 563 delivered dozens of turkey dinners to families and veterans in need of assistance.

Michigan

• Sons of The American Legion Squadron 94 in Cadillac is hosting a free meal on Thanksgiving at Post 94.

• In Coldwater, American Legion Post 52’s Legion Family is serving a free community dinner.

Minnesota

American Legion Post 398 and the Westonka Food Shelf are partnering to provide their third annual free Thanksgiving meal, with special invitations extended to seniors, active-duty military, veterans, and those who may not be able to prepare a meal or would like to join with others. Guests also will be invited to take their choice of a Thanksgiving basket or a Jubilee Foods voucher for $25 included with their meal. The dinner is made possible through support from local churches, businesses and individuals.

Missouri

• For three decades, Emmette J. Shields Post 55 in Hannibal, Mo., has put on a community Thanksgiving dinner that now includes delivering meals and providing carryout services. In 2017, the effort resulted in 450 carryout and delivery dinners and approximately 150 sit-down dinners. Funding for the dinner comes from Post 55 Legion Family donations, as well as donations from individuals and local businesses.

• Sedalia Post 642 is serving a Thanksgiving dinner “to anyone that wants to stop by.”

Nebraska

American Legion Riders Chapter 163 in North Platte already hosted their annual Thanksgiving dinner for area veterans. Each year, approximately 100-150 people are served at the dinner.

Nevada

American Legion Post 60 in Laughlin is hosting a free dinner for its members and local veterans.

New Jersey

In Woodland Park, American Legion Post 238 and the West Paterson First Aid Squad are hosting a free dinner at the post for all seniors and veterans in the area that are not able to be with their families.

Texas

• American Legion Dallas Love Field Post 453’s Legion Family does something unique. For the fourth year, the post will host a 24-hour dinner for the area’s first responders. The post opens at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving and serves dinner until 2 p.m. Friday. The post also delivers meals to those who cannot leave their duties, including full meals to fire stations.

• American Legion Post 22 in Corsicana will host its annual Thanksgiving Dinner that is free and open to the public.

Virginia

Buck Keyes American Legion Post 28 in Triangle hosts a free meal for those “less fortunate, veterans and senior citizens” on Thanksgiving.