Guest blog post by Karen Toll, 2023-2024 ALA National Membership Committee Chair
Let me ask you this…
Why did you join the American Legion Auxiliary? Was it to honor a veteran? To pay back your community? Or to socialize with friends who are members?
Whatever your reason, let us review your benefits to ALA membership:
- Auxiliary members who have maintained annual ALA membership for three consecutive years are eligible for the Auxiliary Emergency Fund, AEF, which could grant you up to $3,000 in the event of a disaster or financial setback.
- There are many discounts available on retail and insurance products.
- Networking with some of the greatest folks ever!
- Gratification when working at an event or fundraiser with the Auxiliary.
- The ability to help veterans in need, right in your own community.
- The opportunity to help military families.
- The possibility of scholarships for your family and friends.
- A membership card that gives you the opportunity to visit different American Legion posts as you travel.
- And my favorite reason: FRIENDSHIPS!
Still unsure about renewing?
Maybe you need a reminder of what the American Legion Auxiliary REALLY does!
I will share a few of my favorite programs:
- Junior Activities: American Legion Auxiliary Juniors are ages birth until their 18th birthday. ALA senior members teach Junior members to be outstanding citizens. We teach them the importance of giving back to their community and our legacy of Service Not Self. Senior members feel rewarded working with Juniors. We can all learn from each other at any age.
- Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: Have you ever assisted veterans at the local VA hospital? The veterans are some of the nicest people. If you get them telling their war stories, they are amazing. They are sharing history with you! You cannot leave the VA without an extra pep in your step! And how about the Veterans Creative Arts Festival at both the local and national levels? That is some amazing work!
- National Security: How much pride do you have when you help fill boxes to send to the troops? Do they correspond with you once they have received the boxes? I love it when they send photos! I cannot imagine being out of the country, away from loved ones for an extended period. We have been told over and over that they have so much appreciation for the packages — partially because of the contents — but mostly because we are showing our military that we care about them!
Do you help your unit assist the family of an active-duty servicemember? We clip coupons. We babysit. Have you seen the success of a baby shower for pregnant military/spouses?
- Poppy: Who doesn’t love the little red flower, as well as the powerful meaning behind it? Many members love to socialize while making poppies or collecting donations for them. When one of our unit members passes away, we show our gratitude for the deceased member with the poppy service at their funeral. The family of the deceased always love the ceremony.
The American Legion Auxiliary is a lot of work. But it is fun work!
We fundraise in many different ways: We have bingo, bake sales, craft shows, turkey raffles, etc. That is hard work, but donating to your community, a servicemember, a veteran, a program, or a scholarship fund is one of the most rewarding things not only for the recipient, but for all of us as well!
We offer many opportunities for positive interactions. We have unit meetings, district/county meetings, department meetings, Mission Trainings, and National Convention. Can you imagine missing out on the friendships you can make at these meetings? I honestly cannot! I have so many more friends throughout the United States and beyond because of my membership in The American Legion Family.
Are you ready to renew your membership? You don’t have to do everything the ALA offers. Find one program that interests you most, and start asking questions. Ask to be on the committee to gain more knowledge. It will be fun and rewarding. Once you are more involved, you will gain a sense of belonging, which is followed by a greater sense of pride in both the organization and yourself.
That’s a WIN-WIN!