With average winter temperatures barely topping the mid-20s as a high and dipping into single digits for the low, The American Legion Riders from Caryl Sydney Hanson Post 255 in Brainerd, Minn., are somewhat limited as to outdoor riding activities over the holiday season.
But those same Riders found a way to be active while serving veterans in their community despite dealing with the Minnesota winters.
For the past few years, ALR Chapter 255 and other members of the post’s American Legion Family have conducted a cookie bake, providing dozens and dozens of cookies to area veterans, local senior citizens and those otherwise unable to bake or buy their own holiday cookies.
Part of the reason for the project was to build camaraderie within Post 255’s American Legion Family, Chapter 255 Director Blair Francis said. “But we also needed something to do for the winter months to keep us active,” he said. “So I brought up doing a cookie bake.”
Francis pitched the idea to the Riders, who bought into it. The first year the post produced 100 dozen cookies and quickly realized that with the size of the post's kitchen, the cookie production could grow.
This year the chapter will bake around 240 dozen cookies over the course of four hours on Dec. 22. They’ll be delivered by Legion Family members, including Santa Claus – played by Legion Rider and past post and district commander Dewayne Collins.
Members of the post’s Legion Family gather to help out, as do members of other local clubs and organizations. “Everybody works together and loves it,” Francis said. “Everybody got to do the part of the baking they like to do. Nobody had to do anything they didn’t want to do.”
While some cookies are available to be picked up at the post, Francis said the focus is to provide cookies to “people that don’t have the capacity or the means to make (cookies).”
Francis said the recipients – which include area veterans, senior citizens and their caregivers – are appreciative. “They’re grateful,” he said. “We had one veteran we’re going to (deliver to), and he’s excited. He’s a shut-in, and his mom’s past the age where she bakes any more. He was excited to be able to give some cookies to his visitors – mainly his mom.
“This is serving our community and servicing our veterans. That’s what we do. That’s what we like to do.”