Ever wonder how you can make a difference as a Junior member? Listed below are some ideas for how to aid veterans and military families. Some of these activities may help you earn patches in the Junior Patch Program.
Show new military children around your school
- Contact a school guidance counselor and tell him or her that you are a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Explain that we are the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization and that our mission is helping veterans, servicemembers, and their families. Tell them you would like to show military children who are new to the school around and help them if they have any questions.
Talk to community businesses about why they should hire a veteran
- Print out the list of the Top 10 reasons to Hire a Veteran and send/deliver it to any local businesses that have help-wanted signs or ads. If you will be delivering the list yourself, have a parent or an adult unit member go with you. Share copies of the list with members of your unit and ask them to do the same. Post the list on the bulletin board at grocery stores and other places where people might see it.
Help military children feel supported
- Ask a school guidance counselor to help you identify students interested in helping fellow students who have parents or guardians serving in the military. Host a meeting with those identified students who want to help military children. Ask these kids to help you reach out to students who may be missing a parent or worried about a deployed parent. Some things to look for: students who dress with any camouflage or have flags/yellow ribbons on lockers, backpacks, or the car used to bring the students to school. Also, ask the guidance counselor for tips on what to say, and what not to say, when reaching out to military children whose parent(s) are deployed or whose parents are missing or killed in action.
Get your school or unit involved in making pocket flags
- For Veterans Day at your school, see if you can have all of the classes in your school fold flags for military personnel. Talk to your principal or counselor and explain that you are a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Explain that you want to teach classmates about Veterans Day and how they can make a difference in a military servicemember’s life by doing little projects like folding pocket flags. You could also use this as an opportunity to work toward a patch. You could give a presentation about what the flag represents and the meaning behind it. Your school may not be able to pay for the flags, so talk with them about fundraising ideas. Visit www.pocketflagproject.com for more information.
Write thank-you letters
- Contact a nursing home or veteran’s home near your unit and ask how many veterans live there. Then get other Juniors in your unit or friends to write thank-you letters to those veterans, saying how much you appreciate their service and sacrifice to our country. You can even include drawings of flags or a picture of poppies.
Organize poppy making
- Find out who is in charge of poppies for your unit and ask them to contact the department poppy chairman on your behalf. Ask if they are in need of new veteran poppy makers. Brainstorm with members in your unit on how to locate new poppy makers. Then contact those places to see if you can go to meet with veterans who might be interested in earning a bit of income making poppies. Bring some materials so you can demonstrate how poppies are made and familiarize yourself with your department’s rules/guidelines about poppy distribution ahead of time.
Become a student volunteer at your local Veterans Affair Volunteer Service
- Ask permission from your parent or guardian to become a student volunteer at a veteran’s hospital or VA facility in your area. Contact your local Veterans Affair Volunteer Service at www.volunteer.va.gov/StudentProgram.asp to find instructions for applying.
Participate in the veterans history project
- Capture a piece of history by interviewing a veteran in your community. Follow the link, www.loc.gov/vets, to learn how you can participate. You can also search through the veteran’s collection to learn more about articles already in the database.
Collect items for the Give 10 to Education project
- With other Juniors in your unit or with friends, collect items for students in your school who have parents in the military or National Guard. Work with your teacher or school counselor on how to get the items to the students.
Talk to your high school counselor about scholarship opportunities
- Contact your high school guidance counselor; explain that you are involved with the American Legion Auxiliary, and give them information about scholarship opportunities the Auxiliary has for students going into college. Information on these scholarships can be found at www.ALAforVeterans.org/scholarships. Gather information from your local unit as well to take to your counselor.
Get involved with Operation Military Child
- Operation Military Child has a lot to offer. For example, you can make hero packs or get trained in their Speak Out for Military Kids program.
Help out with your local American Legion Family events
- If you know of events that will be taking place, contact the person in charge and offer to help. You may be able to help set up before a dinner or event. There may be numerous ways for you to help — but you won’t know until you ask.