By Mary O’KEEFE
Members of American Legion Post 288 and Veterans of Foreign Wars 1641 are strong supporters of the Crescenta Valley. At their foundation is a deep commitment to support veterans and active military personnel. This bond began at their first days of boot camp and continues throughout their lives. The two organizations are available for returning veterans who may have questions about medical coverage questions and housing issues among other concerns. They fight for those who find the mountain of paperwork from the Veterans Administration too difficult to go through alone, and are there for families who have lost loved ones either in service or long after their active service ended.
Recently veterans said goodbye to retired AFW commander Captain Gerald “Jerry” L. Peterson USNR who passed away on Aug. 3. A memorial gathering was hosted by the American Legion and VFW for friends and families to honor Jerry’s passing and to show support for his widow.
On Saturday members of law enforcement were invited to the American Legion and VFW monthly breakfast. It was the members’ way of taking time to recognize what the officers do for the communities they serve and to show support. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., California Highway Patrol and Glendale Police Dept. enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and pastries at the Legion Hall. They were given thank you coins from the veterans in gratitude for their service to the community.
Service to the community is something familiar to the two veterans’ Posts. They have volunteers at several community events, including the Hometown Country Fair and 9/11 Remembrance events, and are boots on the ground at 5 a.m. to help wrap up the Prom Plus event for Crescenta Valley High School students. They also award scholarships to local students, send off care packages to those serving in the military and sponsor Boy Scout Troop 288. Fundraising allows them to continue their philanthropic mission.
“We send a greeting and $50 Amazon gift card to all local active duty military at Christmas time, provide some emergency help with food, gas, and/or clothing to vets and their families with short-term emergencies, support widows and families when the veteran passes, get their veteran’s death benefits,” said Lynn McGinnis, former Post 288 commander. “And
we support our Post Service Officer Blake Hyfield, who volunteers at the Sepulveda VA facility in the San Fernando Valley.”
The veterans also support a variety of American Legion state rehabilitation programs.
In addition, the Posts support local in-need families identified by school counselors, McGinnis added.
“Last year the Legion and VFW combined donated more than $3,000 directly to local families at Christmas time,” McGinnis said.
To raise money for their outreach projects, the American Legion and VFW are hosting the Fifth Annual Community Bingo Night at Healy Hall at Holy Redeemer Church on Friday. Doors open at 6 p.m.; games begin at 7 p.m.
“It’s fun,” said Mike Baldwin, American Legion adjunct. “I think people enjoy playing bingo. I was pleasantly surprised at our first bingo. We had no idea it would turn out like it did.”
From the beginning, bingo night has been an extremely popular event for the community with standing room only crowds. The first bingo night was held to raise funds for the now completed Two Strike Park Memorial Wall. The event was so successful the veterans decided to continue the annual fundraiser to support other organizations.
To help the veterans continue with their work for the community, people are encouraged to attend Friday’s bingo night, but should show up early since chairs get filled quickly. The entry fee is $10 per person.
“We give [attendees] a 10-pack [meaning] 10 games at two cards per game,” Baldwin said. Additional cards can be purchased. Food and drink are available to purchase as well.
Prizes of over $1,700 will be given out.
Holy Redeemer Healy Hall is located at 2411 Montrose Ave. in Montrose.