The Great Bend American Legion Auxiliary is inviting the public to help bring holiday cheer to veterans at the Kansas Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge. People can come to the Argonne Post 180, located at 1011 Kansas Ave., and adopt a veteran from the Angel Tree, said Brenda Krueger, project chairwoman.
A special Christmas tree at the Legion Hall is decorated with Angel Tags that show the sizes and colors of clothing requested for individual veterans. The post requests new warm clothes such as sweatpants and sweatshirts – button or zip up, not pullover – for Halsey Hall veterans. Veterans who live in Lincoln Hall will be given $15 gift cards for Montana Mike’s and $20 Walmart gift cards for day trips to Dodge City. Veterans who live in cottages will also receive gift cards, so there are close to 100 veterans on the list, Krueger said.
Gift bags are requested instead of wrapping for the ease of handling by the veterans.
All items are due at the American Legion by Dec. 9 and will be delivered on Dec. 12. Cash is certainly welcome, Krueger said. Simply put the cash, along with the donor’s name and phone number, in an envelope and bring it to the post. If Krueger isn’t there, any auxiliary member should be able to help.
For more information call Krueger, 620-793-2796, or the American Legion, 620-793-5912.
The auxiliary and other members of the American Legion post family have been making the trek to Fort Dodge since 2008.
“It really does touch people,” Krueger said. Giving a gift for no reason other than to say thanks for serving our country brings the special meaning of Christmas to life, she added. “What a great opportunity to show our love and respect for them.”
Last year some 30 Legion members, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, traveled to Fort Dodge to deliver the presents.
They coordinate their giving through the activities director at Fort Dodge, and this year the director specifically requested warm sweats and flannel shirts. “A cold winter is expected,” Krueger said.
A free store
American Legion Posts in Kansas’ 6th, 7th and 8th district also help the veterans at Fort Dodge by opening a free gift store inside Lincoln Hall for two afternoons, Dec. 6 and 7. Here resident veterans can pick up snacks, Christmas cards, stamps, personal items such as shampoo or a gift for a friend.
“Our unit gives $500 a year to the Christmas gift store,” Krueger said.
She is involved in that program as well, so anyone interested in getting involved may contact her. However, Krueger said one of the best ways to get involved is by becoming a member of the American Legion family – the Legion, Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, or the Legion Riders (who are also members of one of the other branches).
About Fort Dodge
The Kansas Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge is located approximately 5 miles east of Dodge City on U.S. 400. Fort Dodge dates back to 1865 when it was ordered to be built as a supply post for people and wagon trains traveling the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Dodge was strategically located to the wet and dry routes of the Santa Fe Trail. Today it is operated by the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office and offers a variety of long-term care and retirement living options.