'This is how we give back'

A July fire at the Village Inn Apartments left more than 80 Battle Creek, Mich., families displaced. But thanks to the efforts of three local American Legion posts, those families will now have some of their items lost in the fire replaced.

On Oct. 6, Capt. Oscar Brady Post 298 and American Legion Post 54 in Battle Creek teamed up with SSG Michael A. Dickinson II Post 257 in Augusta to host a Fill-The-Truck event at Post 298. The goal was to fill a 28-foot U-Haul moving truck with items such as microwaves, linens, lamps, pots and pans, dishware, silverware and kitchen utensils, and warm clothing to provide to the families.

Post 257 Commander Brian Mohlman said the idea for the event came about when post service officers from Post 298 and 257 were at service officer training in Lansing, Mich., in August, and talked about the fire and the possibility of the three area posts helping out.

“They approached and sold the idea to the (post) commanders and management, and it was ‘go’ from Day 1,” Mohlman said. “We do a lot in the community, and we felt there was a need – almost an emergency-type need – to help out these victims of the fire.

“A lot of them are lower-income families, and they just don’t have the means to recover from something like that. They just need things to help them get back on their feet and get started again.”

On Oct. 6 at Post 298, the U-Haul truck started out empty but didn’t end that way – despite uncooperative weather. “We started off at 9 o’clock and it was raining,” Mohlman said. “We actually had about a monsoon at around 10:30, but people will still showing up with carloads and truckloads of items. By the time 3 o’clock rolled around the whole truck was full.

“We’re just amazed. We never expected an outpouring of generosity like that. The community of Battle Creek and the surrounding communities, other Legionnaires and other organizations just chipped in and made it all happen.”

The items will be delivered to Charitable Union, an organization that provides clothing, bedding and small household items to families in need, for distribution to the families.

Mohlman said helping out the victims of the fire was an opportunity to show those in the community the posts’ appreciation for its support. “We depend on the support of the local community for our existence, really, when it comes right down to it,” he said. “This is how we give back and show our appreciation to the community, especially during times of need.”