The American Legion Family No. 113 was busy in October. We were visible and robustly represented at the 2019 Angelina AirFest, which was well attended by the public in support of the Marines Toys for Tots effort. The American Legion Family No. 113 members then supported the Huntington Catfish Festival the following weekend, which is a highlight for that community.

The funds raised by the post raffle and other items sold at these events are solely used to support veterans in need as we become aware and engage to help them. It was reported by our finance officer that hundreds of dollars were spent this past month to provide assistance for local veterans. Our organizations are proud to be able to step in and provide or facilitate assistance for these who have served us as active military service members in the past

The auxiliary distributed pocket-size copies of the U.S. Constitution as well as Halloween coloring books for the little ones with safety tips for the parents in the back.

With Veterans Day approaching, there are special events in the works to honor all who have served, including the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Huntington followed by a program in Centennial Park on Saturday morning, then the auxiliary distributes Memorial Poppies that evening at Honor America Night at Abe Martin Stadium.

Then on Sunday, the auxiliary and the city of Lufkin are presenting a special event at The Pines Theater in downtown Lufkin. Everyone is invited to this great event. Admission is free, but we do request donations and will have last-minute sponsorships for Wreaths Across America, Memorial Poppy distribution and, as always, donations to help all of our programs to help our veterans and their families.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress earlier in 1919 but didn’t hold its first convention until November. After having been approached by several women’s groups, the auxiliary was officially founded on Nov. 10, 1919, and has come a long way in the past 100 years.

This year at the national convention, changing one word made a lot of difference in the organization. They changed the word wife to spouse. When the ALA was founded there were few females in the military and even fewer female veterans, and most of those were not married. Now we have a large population of female veterans, many who are married to non-veteran spouses. They were not eligible to be a member of the American Legion Family, but changing that one word made it possible, and now we welcome the husbands of our female American Legion members.

The purpose of the auxiliary unit is to support the American Legion Post. While the post concentrates on helping the veterans directly, the auxiliary participates by providing sandwiches several days a month at the Charles Wilson VA Clinic, and with the help of the Sew & Sew Sisters and others and generous donations from our community, the auxiliary takes hundreds of handmade items to the VA Hospital in Houston on a regular basis.

To date this year, more than $55,000 worth of items such as pillows, telemetry bags, walker and wheelchair bags, ditty bags, lap robes, etc., have been taken to Houston. The auxiliary also participates in many community projects as well as the Chamber of Commerce events and functions.

Then on Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) many of the area schools have their own special Veterans Day programs at the various schools.

In December, we pause to remember our comrades that have passed joining together with the Wreaths Across American campaign at 11 a.m. on Dec. 14. Sponsorship ends on Dec. 2. We are still a long way from reaching our goal of a wreath for every veteran in Garden of Memories. Please help today.

If you are a veteran with an honorable discharge or the spouse or immediate family member of a veteran, please consider joining our ranks in support of so many who are unable to do so themselves. We meet monthly on the first Monday at the Angelina Senior Citizens Center and would welcome your visit. The auxiliary meets at 5:30 p.m. and the post meets at 6 p.m.

Rita Redd is the president of the American Legion Auxiliary 113. Her email address is ala113@consolidated.net.