North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

November 20, 2013

New service group for kids helps U.S. veterans

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

FULTONDALE — An organization for girls is gearing up in north Jefferson County, and is reaching out to help the community.

Pam Alexander is chairman of the American Legion Post 255 Junior Auxiliary. She said the junior auxiliary has been in existence on paper for 13 years, but she wanted to see the members become active.

“They are our future leaders,” she said. “The goal is to have younger people learn about the auxiliary and take our place. They will know everything there is to know abut the Legion and what we stand for.”

Alexander held the first meeting in September, and the girls got busy right off the bat.

In October, the group visited the North Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where the members dressed up for Halloween and handed out trick-or-treat bags to veterans and other residents there, and the Ladies Auxiliary adults served lunch to the residents.

The junior members also danced with residents.

“They did wonderful,” Alexander said. “You could see it came from the heart.”

“We were all crying,” said Anna Johnson, president of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Then in November, the Junior Auxiliary members made poppy candles and collected donations for disabled veterans at the annual Veterans Day ceremony in Fultondale.

For Thanksgiving, the girls will go back to North Hill to visit patients and some of the older girls will visit the VA Hospital in Birmingham to hand out 5-600 care packages to patients.

“They are so eager to learn about veterans and do things for them,” said Alexander.

Like many other youth organizations, the Junior Auxiliary members can earn patches. They are always looking for projects such as setting up homecoming celebrations for returning soldiers, doing lawn care or house work at homes where veterans are deployed, or performing other types of community service.

Of 29 girls enrolled in the group, Alexander said 10 are active. Girls ages 2-17 are eligible to join, if they have a parent or grandparent who served in the U.S. military.

The Junior Auxiliary meets the first Tuesday of every month, 6 p.m., at the American Legion Post 255 at 3855 Old Black Creek Road.

Meanwhile, the Ladies Auxiliary is also staying busy. On the same day they served lunch at Pine Hill, auxiliary members also took care packages to Three Hots and a Cot at Woodlawn, which houses homeless veterans.

In addition, the members served lunch to the community following the Veterans Day ceremony in Fultondale.

They also plan to serve Thanksgiving dinner to post members and their families, and will host a birthday party for all 28 of the post’s World War II veterans and their families.

In order to reach farther out of their community, the Ladies Auxiliary is collecting winter clothing and clothing of all sizes to donate. Members are also collecting items to mail to deployed soldiers, as well as cash donations to help pay shipping.

A list of needed items is available at the post.

To donate hygiene items for the VA Hospital care packages or for information about the Juniors Auxiliary, call Alexander at (205) 281-5562.

To donate to soldiers care packages or for more information about the Ladies Auxiliary, call the post at 490-6501.