Benton-West City Area Chamber of Commerce has announced another winner to be recognized during the annual dinner on Nov. 5 at the Benton Civic Center.
Freda Broadway, president of American Legion Post 280 Women's Auxiliary, cherishes the nomination of the group as Volunteer of the Year as she reflects on the auxiliary's history.
ln February 1921, 21 ladies signed their names to the charter application to form an American Legion Auxiliary in Benton.
The national convention was held in Missouri that year and on Jan. 9, 1922, the American Legion Auxiliary of the Stanley McCollum Post 280 was founded as Unit 280.
Since that time ladies have become an intricate part of the Post. We assist with functions at the post, as well as doing our own thing.
When I became president in 2007, l knew very little about all the work involved. The president for the year 2006-2007, Laura Vaughn, suddenly passed away.
lt was the first funeral that I had attended for a member where I read a memorial. I realized then that the work of the Auxiliary had to continue.
There were only five or six ladies attending the meetings and we had to change the way we conducted the meetings. One objective was foremost in our hearts and minds, to honor our veterans, past, present and future.
We also support the Post any way we can. We now have 15 to 25 members joining our meetings.
We hold bingo at Marion V.A. Medical Center for our recovering veterans, hold Poppy distribution day on Memorial weekend. The money raised helps us help our veterans. We cook and serve the fish dinners at the post on Friday nights; we visit all the veterans in our local nursing homes.
Veterans are given special gifts for Valentine's Day, Easter, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now we visit them on their birthdays with a special birthday basket. We also participate in The Gifts for the Yanks program.
Detainees at the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center make cards for our veterans on special occasions. We have also included grade school students to assist in making cards. We sent over 300 Christmas cards to be distributed to our troops in Afghanistan and lraq and are collecting white socks and sock caps to send to Afghanistan and Iraq.
We send care packages to our deployed troops.
One of our ladies has been sending these care packages to our troops since Desert Storm.
We purchased 100 stockings and gave to the Stockings for Sailors program. We contribute to Franklin County H.E A. to help buy supplies to make neck coolers. Medical teams report that they are in dire need of these items for the wounded soldiers. Once in flight, it gets pretty cold.
Page 2 of 2 - We made and are selling cook books as a fund raiser. If you don't have yours yet, just contact any Auxiliary member. She will be happy to sell you one for only $10.
The most rewarding event we have ever done was line the drive into Masonic & Odd Fellows cemetery in Benton with American flags.
Members of our community opened up their hearts and pocketbooks so this idea could become a reality.
The Veteran's Flag Project was dedicated on Nov. 11, 2011 at the cemetery.
With help from the American Legion Post, American Legion Riders, V.F.W. Post 2671, the Sons of the American Legion, Sons of the V.F.W., Ladies Auxiliary of V.F.W., Benton High School cheerleaders, and Benton High School football players, we display nearly 500 flags on Memorial Day and especially Veterans Day. lf you have not driven through the cemetery on those days, you are missing an awesome sight.
We have received several awards, and are proud of all of them.
We just received a most coveted award from our National President, Peggy Thomas, and National Membership Committee Chairman, Susan Britton. There were only nine units in the entire United States to receive this award and we were the only one from lllinois. The award was sent to Department of lllinois to be presented at a later date.
We are committed to justice, freedom, democracy and loyalty. Loyalty to our veterans for what they have done for us. We serve God, our veterans and their families.
With a growing membership of 900,000 strong worldwide, we are the largest and most influential women's organization of its kind and continues to this day because of the loyalty and respect for our fallen Hero's in Flanders Field.
Our commitment to Service not Self is evident in our work for all our veterans, past, present and future.
Tickets for the Chamber dinner are $30 and are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, 211 N. Main. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., with Martin's Catering providing the buffet at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, call the Chamber at 438-2121.