The American Legion Family — that’s what it’s all about for ALA Unit 348, ALA Juniors, and Sons of The American Legion squadron of Brick, N.J.
Since October 2017, Legion Family members have been working together to provide breakfast the first Sunday of each month from October to April.
The idea came about when Sons members approached the ALA unit about hosting a joint breakfast where the Sons would buy and cook the food, and Juniors would serve it. Additionally, the squadron said they would donate all profits back to the Juniors.
At first, turnout was around 50 to 60 people each month. But over time, it has grown. The highest breakfast count so far has been 114 people. The ongoing event has been in thanks to a variety of tactics such as Facebook posts, flyers at Post 348, and word of mouth.
The menu changes constantly to provide multiple types of food, including scrambled eggs, bacon, pork roll, sausage, hashbrowns/home fries, made-to-order omelets, breakfast sandwiches, French toast, and dessert.
All who are involved in the breakfasts believe in and understand the importance of holding an event like this.
“The SAL/Juniors breakfast is to help fund our Junior projects, donating to worthy causes and buying supplies, while also bringing the Post 348 Legion Family together,” said Unit 348 2nd Vice President and Junior Co-Chair Kiara Tuminelli. “It gives our Juniors an opportunity to bond with our veterans and also instills in them a sense of community.”
The event is truly an American Legion Family affair — the Sons buy and cook the food, the Auxiliary collects money at the door and supervises the Juniors, Juniors serve the buffet-style breakfast and deliver made-to-order omelets to the tables, and Legionnaires donate the hall for the event.
For the Juniors, it’s a learning experience and an opportunity to see their hard work pay off. It also brings the Legion Family together.
“Our Legionnaires, Auxiliary, and Sons all come together to have a meal and socialize,” said Unit 348 President and Junior Co-Chair Lynn Stefaniak. “Our Juniors are learning to respect and honor our active-duty and veteran members. They have also come to realize how lucky they are to be part of such an organization. As leaders, we strive to make them aware of the sacrifices others have made so we can all enjoy the many freedoms the United States of America has to offer.”
At the end of the breakfast season last year, the Juniors were surprised to receive 100% of the proceeds through a donation from the squadron, solidifying their hard work and that teamwork truly can make a difference.
“Our Juniors were overwhelmed by the donation, as they had no idea of the amount of money they had helped raise,” said Unit 348 1st Vice President and Junior Co-Chair Kerri Garrido. “There were smiles on every face.”
The Juniors and senior members are still trying to decide how to best donate the money they have earned.
“Our Juniors feel very strongly about giving to children and family of active-duty personnel,” said Unit 348 Sergeant-at-Arms and Junior Co-Chair Terri Paquette.
Some programs and organizations the Juniors have donated to are Toys for Tots, Children of Fallen Heroes, National Guard Family Assistance Program, Butterfly Circle of Friends (housing for homeless vets), Camp Semper Fido (training dogs for veterans with PTSD), and ALA Girls State. Junior members also donated gift cards to Coast Guardsmen during the government shutdown earlier this year.
“As leaders, we feel honored to be directing this terrific group of young people,” the Junior co-chairs said. “It’s very rewarding to see the wonderful interactions between our Juniors and our veterans.”
This article was first published in the November 2019 Auxiliary magazine.