Service Not Self is a core value of the American Legion Auxiliary; it motivates our members into action. Last year, the impact of ALA members' mission service exceeded $1.5 billion - the value of our 15.5 million hours of volunteer service plus all the money raised and spent supporting our veterans and outreach programs. The ALA matters, indeed!
The new American Legion Auxiliary Service Not Self Volunteering Toolkit provides members with ideas for more volunteer opportunities to support veterans, military, and their families. Below is a sampling of service ideas to get you started. See more in the Volunteering Toolkit at www.ALAforVeterans.org!
Volunteer at an ALA Girls State Event
Help young women develop leadership skills! ALA Girls State programs instill patriotism and help shape America's future leaders. Contact your ALA department to learn how you can become involved in your state's ALA Girls State program.
Help out at American Legion Baseball Games
Passionate about baseball? Maybe you enjoy volunteering outdoors? The American Legion Baseball program has plenty of volunteer opportunities, from coaching to concessions. With over 5,000 teams, there may be one near you. Contact your local Legion post to volunteer.
Nominate a Child in Your Community for the ALA Youth Hero and Good Deed Award
Do you know of youth in your community who have donated their time to a worthy veteran, military family, or servicemember event? Nominate them for the ALA's Good Deed Award. How about a Junior member who has demonstrated a physical act of valor? Nominate them for the Youth Hero Award.
Donating blood to those in need is a great way to serve your community. It also supports our nation's security! Learn more about American Red Cross blood donation programs and find a blood drive near you.
How to Train for a FEMA - Community Emergency Response Team
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) prepare and respond to disasters in countless communities across the country. Contribute to our nation's security by being prepared for disasters.
Recognize Blue Star Families
It's an American tradition to display a Blue Star Banner in the window of a home when a loved one is proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a reminder that military servicemembers are a part of every community. You can honor military servicemembers in your community by presenting a Blue Star Banner to their family members. Purchase banners through the American Legion Emblem Sales website.
Make a Buddy Basket
A large number of homeless veterans have difficulty finding transitional or permanent housing. Help those who are making a fresh start by providing them with a Buddy Basket - a housewarming gift for formerly homeless veterans who have recently found housing. Baskets usually contain such things as cleaning supplies, linens, towels, dishes, and cutlery.
Provide Service to Veterans
Many of our aging or disabled veterans and their caregivers would appreciate some help around the house since many are not able to take care of housekeeping tasks themselves. Volunteer to do light home repairs, yard work, wash a car, or cook a meal.
Attend a Patriotic Event
Attending a patriotic event is a great way to show your love of country. Of course, many event organizers would welcome volunteer help in planning the event, setting up, working concessions, or taking down the event. Monitor the community news, especially around holiday time, to see if an event is happening near you. Determine if they need volunteers; if not, you could always just show up with your family to support your community.
Volunteer as a Poll Worker on Election Day
Voting is an important civic duty that every citizen should perform. In addition to voting, you can help others to do so by volunteering as a poll worker on election days or offering to drive people to the polls. Find out more by contacting the board of elections in your community or by visiting the federal Election Assistance Commission.
Volunteer for a Voter Registration Drive
Voting is a vital civic right for all Americans. It increases the civic health of local communities and the country as a whole. It also is one of the best ways to make your voice heard. Work with your American Legion Auxiliary unit or American Legion post to organize a local voter registration drive. For tips on successful voter registration drives, visit the League of Women Voters or National Voter Registration Day websites.
Organize an ALA Star Spangled Kids Activity
Educating our children about American history is extremely important to our country's civic health. Star Spangled Kids is the American Legion Auxiliary initiative to educate our youth about United States history, Americanism, and the U.S. Constitution. If you want to share with young people why you love America, learn more about this great civics-for-kids initiative!
Participate in a Walk, Run and Roll
A Walk, Run and Roll is a great way for the ALA to raise community awareness of the Legion Family and raise funds to support your community's military and veteran populations. It's also a terrific opportunity to keep relationships with businesses and organizations in your community. Contact your ALA unit to see if a Walk, Run and Roll event is happening in your community. If not, offer to plan one.
Invite Veterans to Local Schools
We all have a veteran in our lives. Many ALA members also have school-age children or grandchildren, which affords access to their schools. Ask the veteran(s) you're connected with to share their story with students. Who better to talk to our youth about freedom and civic responsibility?
Welcome Military Families to Your Hometown
Do you have military families moving into your community? Consider welcoming them to your hometown. Welcome to Our Hometown events are an opportunity for ALA members to do just that. Members will not only make incoming military families feel at home, but they will also provide helpful advice on the services available in their area.
Assist in a Job Fair for Veterans or Military Spouses
Some veterans and military spouses face unique challenges in obtaining a job or advancing a career. You can help them overcome those challenges by volunteering at a job fair for veterans or military spouses in your area.
Improve the Home of a Veteran
Improving the home of a veteran, servicemember, or a community facility used by the military and veteran population is a great way to bring direct change to one person, family, or community.
Organize a Local Veterans Creative Arts Festival
Creative arts activities and events are an important opportunity for veterans and their families to heal and also to enjoy. The Arts Deployed: Veterans Creative Arts Action Guide provides in-depth instructions on how to get a creative arts activity up and running in your community.
Arrange Professional Development Services for Veterans
Veterans and military spouses face many challenges in seeking and maintaining employment. Many veterans find the stark differences between military and civilian life daunting. By working with professionals to provide resume reviews, mock interviews, tips for workplace etiquette, and other professional development services, you can help veterans harness their potential to be invaluable members to the workforce and develop meaningful professional careers. Set up a Benefits Briefing for Student Veterans
Attainment of a high quality education is often a predictor of an individual's employment, standard of living, and quality of life. Many veterans may not know of educational and other veterans benefits available to them. As a debt of gratitude, Americans owe it to our servicemembers, veterans, and their families to help them receive a quality education.
Volunteer with the VA
Veteran patients at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers depend on volunteers for their recovery. ALA members have served as VA Voluntary Service volunteers for decades; you can do your part as a member too! Take a look to see how you can get started as a VAVS volunteer.
Participate in a Citizenship and Naturalization Ceremony
These ceremonies are a great way to show your patriotism and showcase the Auxiliary by taking part in welcoming the newest American citizens and residents to our country and your state. These events can be a great family activity! You can help out in many ways such as handing out U.S. flags and volunteering to run concessions.
Teach Flag Etiquette Lessons
The American flag is the symbol of our nation and deserves our care and respect. Have you thought about teaching members of your local community flag etiquette? It is important for people of all ages to know about the history of the flag and the proper way to care for it. Teaching flag etiquette can be a great service project for the whole family.
Organize a "Give 10" School Supply Drive
Military children often can use extra school supplies. Running a school supply drive is a great family service project opportunity. The American Legion Auxiliary's Give 10 program allows families to work together to collect supplies such as binders, pencils, paper, rulers, calculators, and backpacks.
Since World War I, the poppy has been a symbol of remembrance to those who sacrificed their lives in war. Around National Poppy Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day, American Legion Auxiliary members distribute millions of poppies, handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation, in exchange for donations that go directly to help disabled and hospitalized veterans. Distributing poppies is a great way for the whole family to serve veterans. Organize a Canned Food Drive or Clothing Drive for Veterans
Some veterans and their families could really benefit from extra help with food or clothing. A great way you can help is to organize a canned food drive or used clothing drive. Why not get the whole family involved? Your kids can collect donations from school friends or Legion friends while adults can ask for donations from the local grocery store, places of worship, or neighbors. It is generally easy to start right away and can be a great service project for the whole family. Be sure you have a receiving veteran family or organization in need for your collection and that they can accept what you plan to collect.
Visit Veterans at a Local Senior Center or VA Home
Sometimes all you need to do to help a veteran is be there - a friendly face willing to listen. Many veterans deeply appreciate the opportunity to have some company or play cards and games. Consider taking your children to your local veterans home or senior center - a great learning opportunity for children to spend some quality time with veterans who will appreciate the kindness.
Inspire others to serve! As ALA members, we need to make sure we are telling our story at every level of the organization to highlight who we are, what we do, and why we matter. Be it with our members, The American Legion Family, our community partners, or even Congress, reporting is another way of sharing our service.
Share Your Service on Social Media
Social media is the perfect way to get the word out. Yet sometimes social media can be a challenge. Should you use Facebook or Twitter? How should you word your message? Take a look at the American Legion Auxiliary Public Relations Toolkit for help with social media.
By taking a few minutes to report your service, you help the American Legion Auxiliary tell the public and Congress how we are fulfilling our mission through Service Not Self. Tools and instructions on impact reporting are available in the Members Only section at www.ALAforVeterans.org/members.