By Mary O’KEEFE
The organization that helps so many celebrated those who support it when it broke ground on long-awaited work on its parking lot.
Last week, on Veterans Day, the American Legion Post 288 broke ground for the reconstruction of its parking lot located adjacent to the lodge on La Crescenta Avenue.
“We are coming together today [Nov. 11] on Veterans Day to accomplish three things,” said Lynn McGinnis, American Legion Post 288 past commander and judge advocate during a small, socially distant presentation. “We are breaking ground on our long awaited project for the parking lot, we are honoring Veteran of the Year Angelo Chiarot, a World War II veteran and [former] member of the U.S. Navy, and have a presentation on Operation Gratitude by Lt. Col. David Worley [retired].”
The work on the parking lot was brought to the public’s attention a couple of years ago by the American Legion. They set up a GoFundMe page and did community outreach so the Post could raise over $30,000 for the project. But additional permitting requirements and fees by the City of Glendale raised the costs of the reconstruction putting the project on hold until the additional funds could be raised. On Nov. 11 the project was able to move forward after the money needed was donated by community members who wanted to show their support of Post 288.
The initial fundraising push was pre-pandemic; consequently it took a while to raise the additional funds. Several of the originally scheduled donations from businesses and organizations had to either be reduced or withdrawn completely due to the pandemic. The members of the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 who share the lodge, continued their push to complete the fundraising.
“The Post has a long history of community service in the Crescenta Valley,” McGinnis said. “We have a membership of about 150 and we have about 25 active members. The other 125 are what we call paper members; they pay their dues for the American Legion and the national level and state level simply looks for membership numbers to bolster or support when they lobby the government.”
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the regular meetings and community events usually held at the Hall have been canceled leaving it empty. This was a good time for work on the lot to be done.
The parking lot and its ramp will be repaired and ready for meetings once pandemic restrictions are lifted and meetings are once again allowed.
In addition to the interior of the Hall, the exterior/parking lot is often used for events, including the annual food donation drive, Scouting for Food, sponsored by the Boy Scouts.
The groundbreaking presentation was also a time to honor Veteran of the Year Angelo Chiarot.
Chiarot enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 9, 1942 and attended boot camp at Treasure Island in San Francisco and then water tender training in Norfolk. He served aboard the frigate USS Gulfport [PF-10] in 1943 and then joined the crew of the destroyer USS Balch [DD-363] in New York in July 1944. The Balch completed five trans-Atlantic convoy escort crossings to various North African ports from August 1944 to May 1945. While aboard the Balch Chiarot served as a water tender, second class. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years.
Worley ended with a presentation thanking members of both Posts for their support in completing the collection of items for Operation Gratitude, which through the Los Angeles Chapter distributed 27,000 care packages to veterans.