Veterans groups dig deep to maintain holiday generosity
Like many veterans' service organizations, the East McKeesport post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has fewer members these days, but no one would know that from the bags of toys that Ray Lang loaded this week to take to a church in Bloomfield.
Many local VFW and American Legion posts' members are reaching deep and working hard during the holidays to maintain their traditions of charity, despite membership numbers that are declining nationwide.
“Everybody's so generous in this club,” said Gloria Brodie, manager and senior vice president of the East McKeesport post's Ladies Auxiliary. “We have all kinds of fundraisers, Ray does all the cooking, and he does a lot of running. He's made I don't know how many trips today for Toys for Tots.”
The East McKeesport post has collected about $4,000 worth of toys and clothes for an “Angel Tree,” where members fulfill a needy child's Christmas list that they pick off a Christmas tree.
Breakfast fundraisers, a gift-basket raffle and sales of homemade soup brought in $3,000, which the members used to buy toys for the annual Toys for Tots campaign run by the Marines and Marine Reserves. Marines came to pick the toys up on Friday and were treated to dinner.
“It's amazing,” Lang said. “Every year, we seem to get more donations.”
In Allegheny County, the VFW had as many as 15,000 life members in 1971, but that number since has declined to about 3,700, according to Henry Manella, quartermaster at the Brentwood post, which has shrunk from 1,100 members a few years ago to 700.
Linda McKenzie, local coordinator for the Toys for Tots campaign in Beaver County, said she communicates with individual VFW and American Legion posts that collect toys or money, but none this year are volunteering labor to help gather and distribute the donations.
Stan Schubert, commandant of the Bantam Marine League Detachment in Butler County, said his region's Toys for Tots campaign drew about 300 volunteers from veterans groups and their families, when the group distributed toys Dec. 13 to about 1,300 children from Butler, Clarion and Venango counties.
“We haven't seen any decline at all,” said Schubert, lauding Butler County veterans for their community service.
But not all posts have been able to keep up. Edward Nock, commander of the American Legion's 36th District, said his post in Dormont had only 20 members, most of whom were World War II veterans too old to be as active in volunteer activities as larger posts with younger members such as the 700-member Bethel Park post.
Tom Stachura, adjutant at the American Legion's post in Baden, said the post used to collect toys for charity at Christmas, but hasn't for years because of a change in management and a 30 percent decline in membership.
“You've got to have the help to do it,” he said. “It's a matter of having the individuals in the organization to start things up; you have to have a driving force.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police seeking light blue vehicle after Homestead shooting
- Run-down duplex that Dormont helped to rehab not on the market long
- Public implored to avoid iPhone cases that resemble guns
- Hill District widow sues dialysis clinic for husband’s death
- CIA station chief made mark in Indonesia
- Tradition rules in Pittsburgh: Keep bridge color the same, poll finds