Guest Blog by Beth McGinn, American Legion Auxiliary Member
The Community Service program of the American Legion Auxiliary promotes visibility within our neighborhoods through our commitment to community, state, and nation by hosting or volunteering, especially on national days of service throughout the year.
A chance to start the new year in service to others — while at the same time letting others know who we are — units and departments can begin now to create their service project for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 15, 2018. We can all further King’s legacy through volunteering in our own community to help others in need!
Volunteering with community members strengthens the ALA’s presence in our own localities and allows you the opportunity to meet a variety of people from all walks of life who may, in the end, become ALA members (Goal 1 of the ALA Centennial Strategic Plan).
“Everybody can be great because everyone can serve.”
— The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The first step for a successful activity is to identify a project that can involve not only ALA members but also other volunteers from your local area. Keep it simple. An activity should be focused on something that people are passionate about, such as veterans, military, their families, and ending homelessness.
Over the years, some of the successful projects reported by ALA members have been Buddy Baskets containing household items for homeless veterans, Promise Purses filled with feminine items for homeless women veterans, comfort mats made from plastic grocery bags, and food and clothing drives. You can find other innovative ideas, discover a volunteer opportunity in your area, or register your event with the Corporation for National and Community Service.
If collecting items is part of your task, be specific about what is needed. Recruit donations and volunteers through social media as well as traditional outlets such as radio, TV, newsletters, and websites. Determine who will benefit from your project (i.e., homeless, military, veterans, community outreach centers), and then determine a collection site for the items. On the day of service, gather all volunteers at a pre-designated place to complete the activity.
Remember to invite newspapers and/or television to cover the event, and wear your American Legion Auxiliary apparel and pins to promote the ALA brand (Goal 5 of the ALA Centennial Strategic Plan). Take lots of photos, and share with other members, family, and friends through Facebook, Twitter, and websites.
Beth McGinn is a 15-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary. She belongs to Oak Orchard-Riverdale Unit 28 in Millsboro, Del.
It is also a great opportunity to get everyone in the community involved. Reach out to others organizations for their support for your project. Don’t forget to publicize and ask your local news station to cover your event.