In a year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, members of the Sons of The American Legion did their part to help their communities.
The most active Atlantic hurricane season on record prompted Sons and other members of the American Legion Family to step up with relief efforts across the states affected by the storms.
SAL Southern Region National Vice Commander Blair Miles served as the Department of Alabama’s point person for relief supply collection efforts for their neighbors in Louisiana following Hurricane Laura in August.
“As a very proud ‘dual member’ of the American Legion Family, it was my pleasure to head up this mission to Louisiana, and I thank the (Disaster Relief) Committee Chairman Vann Daughtry for having the faith in me to do so,” Miles said after the September relief mission. “I have many contacts within The American Legion and the Sons of The American Legion, which gives me access to a much larger base of great people that were more than happy to contribute to this (effort).”
On Sept. 12 at Magnolia Care Center Veterans Home in Baton Rouge, American Legion Family members from across Louisiana joined their Alabama comrades in unloading donated supplies for distribution across the state. The convoy from Alabama was escorted from the state line to Baton Rouge by Louisiana’s SAL National Executive Committeeman John Lawrence, who is also a sheriff’s deputy.
Miles said American Legion Auxiliary members were on hand to distribute expedited emergency relief fund applications to other Auxiliary members there. And Louisiana officers including Department Commander Byron Comeaux, Detachment Commander Tommy Vasser and SAL Past National Vice Commander Camille LeJeune were on hand as well.
“They had recruited a large group of fine young men from local SAL Squadrons to greet and unload all of these vehicles,” Miles said.
• The Detachment of Maryland held its ninth annual Laps of Love Fundraiser for Children and Youth programs in September. Despite contending with pandemic restrictions, the detachment still raised over $7,000.
• Worried that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to area residents going hungry, nine-year-old Sons of The American Legion Squadron 420 member Dominic Baker organized a food drive in Steelton and Swatara Township in Pennsylvania. His effort on April 25 resulted in 100 pounds of food being donated for individuals and families in need through the Swatara Township Police Department.
"I think it’s absolutely amazing that he did this … that’s what we are all about, what we try to push at the Legion with our junior members,” Unit 420 President Lisa Iskric told Penn Live. “When they are out there doing this, we try to teach them their philanthropy does a lot for the community, the veteran’s community. It’s a good stepping stone to see in a future leader.”
• Members of Sons of The American Legion Squadron 32 in in Hope Mills, N.C., found a way to continue to help out those in need of food even after the pandemic closed Hair and Matthews Post 32.
“We had a whole bunch of stuff planned for (March and April),” said Duncan Harling, a two-term Squadron 32 commander. “We were chatting a bit and, honestly, just figuring out what we were going to be doing for the next two weeks. Our post had already gone and canceled all of their (activities), and we were just trying to figure out what was happening.
“I started to think about the weekly food drops the post had done and what was going to happen to all of that food that was just sitting there. I didn’t see any reason for the drops to stop.”
• In Adams, N.Y., Sons of The American Legion Squadron 586 partnered with the South Jefferson Rescue Squad to deliver a free meal to hundreds of area residents in April. Squadron 586 cooked and the rescue squad provided the sides for 500 barbecue chicken meals. Cars lined the street waiting to pick up meals.
• When Sons of The American Legion Squadron 148 in Riverview, Fla., learned via Facebook that Liberty Manor for Veterans needed some new equipment, the Sons responded. Liberty Manor for Veterans provides transitional housing for disabled and honorably discharged veterans who have fallen victim to homelessness. The facility was in need of a new vacuum cleaner and grill, and its residents had no transportation or funds to purchase a new one. So SAL Squadron 148 stepped up, purchasing both a new vacuum and new grill, along with grill utensils. SAL members Mark Getty and Carroll Weese did the shopping and delivered the items. The facility’s residents used the grill that night to cook a chicken dinner.
• Led by its Sons of The American Legion squadron, the Wicks-Staley Post 231 American Legion Family in Clayville, N.Y., had a chicken barbecue in July to raise funds for the local Feed Our Vets food pantry. The effort raised $1,125, which was presented to food pantry director Joseph Ancona.
• In Topeka, Kan., Sons of The American Legion Squadron 400 teamed up with the Community Blood Center for an October blood drive that Squadron 400 Commander Jeff Kerns said typified his organization’s efforts.
“The (SAL’s) mission is to help veterans in any way or form that we can and they need blood; it may just be for a transfusion, it may be an accident, it’s just a way for us to help give back,” Kerns told WIBW-TV. “Blood is just an essential part of everything we do, as far as helping out and giving back as far as it being our mission. It’s one of the items on our list each year to help the community, and it just happens to be one we like to focus on.”
Share your squadron’s stories on Legiontown
Sons of The American Legion members are encouraged to share their stories on The American Legion’s story-sharing website, www.legiontown.org.