Each year, American Legion Riders Chapter 433 in Ironton, Ohio, stages a poker run to raise funds for a local individual or organizations that may need help. Previously, the chapter reached out to other Department of Ohio ALR chapters to raise money for a young girl in need of a lung transplant; the girl got the transplant and graduated with her senior class that year.
Chapter 433 also has raised money for the local Humane Society and other charities in the area through its annual fundraiser, which is done in memory of former Chapter 433 ALR Director John Ackerman. “We’re really strong on community: serving our community and helping our community,” Post 433 Commander and Chapter 433 Ride Captain Frank Murphy said. “The whole post is that way.”
This year, Chapter 433 expanded their scope of help to local law enforcement. Several officers with the Ironton Police Department are members of Post 433; through a conversation with one of the police officers, Anthony Forest, Murphy and other Legion Riders learned that the bulletproof vests used by the police department not only are old, but expired.
“(Forest) was talking about the vest and said ‘they get on me for not wearing my vest,’” Murphy said. “He said ‘there’s no reason to wear them. Our vests expired in 2000. They’re no good.’”
With a population of less than 12,000, Ironton is a small city without the budget to replace the vests, Murphy said. That was enough for Chapter 433’s Legion Riders to quickly determine who would benefit from this year’s poker run.
“We said ‘we can’t let this happen,’” Murphy said. “We told (Forest) right then ‘we’re going to raise the money to get you a new vest.’”
Chapter 433 went to local businesses and individuals in the community to let them know about the effort. Between donations and the poker run, the Legion Riders were able to raise $7,000.
The donation provides the police department with the necessary matching funds to apply for an Ohio Attorney General’s Office grant to replace all of the department’s vests, which costs around $2,300 each.
The donation was presented at a recent Ironton City Council meeting. Murphy said the police department was “thrilled. (Ironton) Chief of Police Pam Wagner … was almost in tears. We’ve always worked real well with our police force here in town. It didn’t surprise them that we did this, but it really touched them that we cared enough to do it.”
But it was business as usual for an American Legion Riders chapter that also has provided “truckloads” of food to a local women's shelter that had used up its budget and was out of food for its residents.
“We’re always serving,” Murphy said.