—8/30/16—CINCINNATI — American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Rantoul Unit 287 in Rantoul, Ill., was one of only five ALA units – out of more than 8,000 – to receive the National President’s Award for Excellence by ALA National President Sharon Conatser. The award was presented at the ALA’s 96th National Convention in Cincinnati.
The National President’s Award for Excellence is presented annually to ALA units that represent the “best of the best” in planning and implementation of the Auxiliary’s mission. Recipients are selected based on applications that address the unit’s achievements in ALA national goals and objectives in at least three ALA programs.
When members of ALA Unit 287 learned that their hometown of Rantoul had the second largest population of at-risk veterans – those who are living at or below the poverty line and at great risk of homelessness – in the county, they immediately sprang into action. They called an emergency meeting with The American Legion Family members to decide how to tackle the problem together, and decided to host a “Stand Down for At-Risk Veterans.” At the event, they provided dinner, haircuts, toiletries, clothes, and toys for children – all for free.
In a thank-you letter, an attendee from the stand down event wrote, “We usually stay away from these types of veteran programs because we don’t receive a warm welcome. When we came to your event, each of you was kind and compassionate – something our family rarely gets. Thank you for treating us with compassion and kindness.”
“These unit members are serving the veterans in their community with open arms and open hearts. Thank you for treating everyone like family,” said ALA Southern Division National Vice President Flora Jean Craig during the awards presentation.
American Legion Auxiliary members have dedicated themselves for nearly a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families both here and abroad. They volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value averaging $2 billion each year. As part of the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, ALA volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with ALA Girls State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. To learn more about the ALA’s mission or to volunteer, donate or join, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.
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