Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way American Legion Auxiliary units have operated in our communities across the country and world, it has not stopped the mission from continuing — it has simply required us to adapt. Units have come up with creative ways to persevere with mission-focused activities, all while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. There are many activities members can do without attending meetings or working in-person events. We encourage you to borrow these ideas and keep making a difference!
Idea No. 1: Stock food pantries
Always eager to lend a helping hand, members assisted in recent months by physically stocking food pantry shelves, purchasing needed items, and collecting donations from their communities.
- Unit 227 in East Moline, Ill., gave $300 to its local food bank.
- Unit 397 in Monterey Park, Calif., has been running a food bank based on household or individual dietary needs and has delivered items.
- Unit 521 in Pasadena, Texas, gathered and donated 10 bags of food for the city’s food drive to help stock the pantries.
Idea No. 2: Help medical centers/community members with needed supplies
As COVID-19 hit across the nation, members stepped up to help medical centers with supplies, namely sewing masks to better protect frontline workers against the pandemic. From Junior to senior members, many sewed or otherwise made masks to add that extra layer of protection in addition to health care workers’ N95 and surgical masks. Units also made masks for veterans homes and for their communities, ensuring access to protection from the virus.
- Unit 135 in Sabattus, Maine, donated 100 cloth face masks each to two of their veterans homes. Additionally, the unit has a member who started making masks when the pandemic began and left them at a few businesses in town at no charge. She has made over 6,000 masks that were given out in the community.
Idea No. 3: Attend/host blood drives
Members stepped up during the crisis for those in need of blood donations. In fact, this was an American Legion Family affair for some communities that attended and/or hosted blood drives after seeing the need.
- Unit 360 in Weatherly, Pa., sponsored a blood drive in its community.
Idea No. 4: Hold “parades” for residents in nursing homes to uplift spirits
For those in nursing homes, COVID has been especially hard with many enforcing a zero-visitor policy for months, leaving residents without a personal, physical connection with loved ones. Some, not knowing what was going on, could have felt abandoned, lonely, or confused. Many members pulled together to create parades for those in nursing homes so they knew they hadn’t been forgotten. From walking by to driving by, to handmade signs held up outside residents’ windows, ALA members helped give positive vibes to those in nursing homes.
- Unit 164 in Spearfish, S.D., had Junior members use homemade signs outside the windows of residents at the Spearfish Canyon Healthcare Center to help cheer them up during the pandemic.
Idea No. 5: Provide meals
An activity that was done even before the pandemic, units across the country continued to make meals for people in their communities. Through this simple act, members met the basic needs of hundreds through a Service Not Self mindset.
- Unit 524 in Ocean City, N.J., provided meals for the homebound, elderly veterans, hospital workers, firefighters, police, and EMTs.
Idea No. 6: Make phone calls to fellow members
Sometimes, all someone needs is a simple phone call to let them know you’re thinking of them, especially during a pandemic when many have missed that social, in-person interaction. Members across the country took time to make phone calls for a health and well-being check on each other, as well as offering to help with running errands as needed.
- Unit 5 in Tampa, Fla., sent “thinking of you” cards and did Buddy Checks on members.
This article was originally published in the November 2020 Auxiliary magazine.