Dennis T. Williams Post 310 has been providing weekly food distributions to the San Diego community for around 10 years, according to life member and two-term Post 310 Commander William Smith. That hasn’t changed since the coronavirus hit California.
But Post 310 has taken its community efforts a step further since the pandemic started, teaming up with the SD Hip Hop 5K & Festival and the San Diego Strike Force indoor football team to distribute more than 5,000 meals a week since the start of June to children ages 18 and under.
Smith said he was approached by leaders from the festival and the Strike Force about teaming up to provide what is normally around 1,700 meals to children in need. Each child receives both a hot meal and a cold meal packaged to go. Meals are passed out at Post 310 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Any leftovers are given to homeless members of the community.
“We had (Legion Family) members wanting to do something and get involved,” Smith said. “They jumped on this 100 percent.”
Legion Family members help distribute the food, as do members of the community. The recipients of the meals are “very grateful,” Smith said, adding that it was important for Post 310 to be a part of an effort like this one. “It’s more of our responsibility. We have a responsibility to the community. We want to make sure we’re out there. We host so many events that we bring the community into the post so they can see what The American Legion is about.”
Smith said the weekly food distributions from the post haven’t missed a beat. Every Saturday at 10 a.m. in its back parking lot, the post hands out fruits, vegetables and non-perishable food items to the community.
The Monday, Wednesday and Friday meal giveaways will continue at least through the end of June, but Smith said with the growing number of coronavirus cases in California, the effort may be needed much longer.
The service to community provided by Post 310 is nothing new. Its Legion Family also provides school supplies and backpacks for local students, as well as hosts volunteer appreciation events. “I always tell our members that it’s our responsibility to get out and make sure we take care of our kids, take care of our elders and those that are in need,” he said. “It’s one of the greatest things you can do as a commander and as a member of a post to make sure you give back. It’s our responsibility to do that.”
More efforts from around the nation. Remember to share your stories at www.legiontown.org.
In Phenix City, Fletcher-McCollister Post 135 celebrated reopening after the coronavirus shutdown by providing a free hot dog lunch to the community.
“Whatever we can do to get a smile on people’s faces especially during these difficult times, it’s great to be able to give a little bit of cheer, a little bit of morale boost,” Post 135 Commander Ron Jones told WTVM. “It makes us feel better doing it too. Seeing the smile on their faces when they come in, their gratitude. It’s our way of saying thank you.”
American Legion Riders from Hollywood Post 43 joined with Burbank Marine Recruiting Office poolees to load up the Dream Center’s food trucks to serve the community. Dream Center is a Los Angeles-based charitable organization that provides support nationwide to struggling people and communities daily.
American Legion Riders from the 11th District and the American Legion Department of Georgia Auxiliary took part in the drive-by Community Living Center Veteran Family Member Parade put on by the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. It provided patients to see their loved ones, some for the first time in 90 days due to COVID-19.
The Riders joined more than 50 family members, hospital leadership and others in the parade. Watch video of the parade here.
Through its Buddy Check program, American Legion Post 154 has reached out to all 135 of its members, checking to see if any of them needed assistance. An 86-year-old member shared during his call that he had recently lost his wife and was having difficulty getting out to the grocery store. The post arranged to pick up his shopping list and do his shopping, delivering his groceries to his home for several weeks. The post has offered the same service for both groceries and medication to other members while providing rides to medical appointments as needed.
“This is the time for all of us to pull together and to serve our fellow Legionnaires and veterans in our community as we deal with this health crisis,” Post 154 Finance and Legislative Officer Len Crosby said via Legiontown.
Thanks to the efforts of Illinois Legionnaires and DoodleBug Workshop in Wheaton, nearly 300 U.S. servicemembers will receive cards and letters from home.
Through the "Write a Joe or Jane” effort, DoodleBug Workshop worked with Illinois 11th District American Legion Commander Kevin Leonard to spread the word about the letter-writing campaign.
"It was a chance for people of all ages hunkered down at home or in senior facilities to share their stories and build up the morale of people in uniform," DoodleBug Workshop Executive Director Sarah Starke told the Daily Herald. "We collected just under 300 letters and cards. The American Legion has been so supportive of efforts to teach our participants how to use tools and make beautiful wood products, we wanted to give back to active military and veterans.”
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 23 in Spirit Lake has spent the past 10 weeks making more than 10,000 face masks for both children and adults, sending them all over the state. In addition to providing the masks to local businesses and a hospital in Spirit Lake, they have made these masks available to facilities as far away as Marshalltown and Sioux Falls.
American Legion Riders Chapter 364 in Fort Dearborn, Carl E. Stitt Chapter 32 and other Michigan American Legion Rider Chapters are conducting a ride to honor and thank first responders in the area for their efforts during the coronavirus. The ride will start in Dearborn, travel through Trenton, Southgate and Wyandotte, and then make laps around various area police and fire departments, funeral homes, hospitals and an assisted-living center.
A request made by The Minnesota American Legion Foundation to Quilts of Valor (QOV) resulted in nearly 5,000 masks being constructed for the Tri-State area Veterans Homes, hospitals and clinics. Multiple volunteers stepped up to help the project, including American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148. Dent QOV was able to achieve their goal of making nearly 5,000 masks. American Legion Post 148 delivered 1,000 of the masks to the Fargo VA Health Care System; other masks have gone to Sioux Falls, St. Cloud and Minneapolis.
Henry Meldrun Post American Legion Post 114 and Auxiliary Unit 114 in Sikeston are providing a lunch to the Sikeston Department of Public Safety to show their appreciation for the department’s efforts in ensuring the safety of the community.
An effort by American Legion Montgomery-Plant-Dudley Post 10 in Wausau and Bunkers Restaurant provided more than 1,000 meals in 11 weeks for area veterans in need of food during the pandemic. Funding for the project was provided by Post 10, Acacia Philanthropy Foundation, Bunkers Restaurant and others.
Post 10 Legionnaire Thom Passow and his family provided the majority of coordination for the program, while meals were prepared by Bunkers Restaurant at Tribute Golf Course.