On a typical cold winter day in Ames, Iowa, American Legion Post 37 warmly greeted community members with its first Legion Family Play Day.
Post and community members mingled and played board games, cards, shuffleboard, bean bags, Bingo and Wii games at the post on Jan. 25.
“We’ve invited the community to come in and play games with us to see what we are all about,” Post 37 Commander Jennifer Monserud said. “It’s important for the post to give back to the community that we ask so much from.”
Originating from Resolution 20 approved by the National Executive Committee during the 2019 Spring Meetings, Legion Family Play Days are a way to bring younger veterans and their families into posts for a day — or evening — of family entertainment. Posts can tailor the events so that it best fits the needs of the local community.
A toolkit for posts that includes resources and promotional items is available for download.
Flexibility are communication are important when planning these events. The Ames post originally scheduled its event two weeks earlier but postponed it due to a storm.
The post, which is on Main Street in downtown Ames, selected January for a Legion Family Play Day because many families are on vacation during the summer, said Jennifer’s husband, Mike, who is a member of all four American Legion Family organizations.
“In the state of Iowa, it’s cold out,” he said. “We want to get the kids out of the house, get them to come down and show what The American Legion does. It’s one of the Four Pillars — Children & Youth. We need to show them how we support the youth program.
“The community supports us. They believe in our mission and the goals we have here.”
While not the sole purpose of Legion Family Play Day, at least one family that attended the event joined Post 37. “Her and her daughter had a lot of fun interacting with the members and seeing that this is a family-friendly environment,” Jennifer said. “They were looking for a new way to give back to their community and this fit exactly what they were looking for. We’re really pleased that they chose to become members today.”
Post members promoted the event via Facebook and communicated about the event directly to local schools and a home-schooled group and a local Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s important to get it out to your schools and planning around basketball games and other winter sports,” she said. “And having a variety of things to do is important. Not every kid is going to be at the same game range.”
Without hesitation, Jennifer said Post 37 envisions hosting more Family Play Days.
“We definitely want to interact with our community more,” she said. “And just show them that we are here and that we love them just as much as they love us.”