The Poppy Program
Volunteers from across the state support Veteran Christmas shops like this one at the Prescott VA
Last year, Arizona members volunteered over 175,000 hours of service to
Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation. Arizona units contributed thousands of hours
of service to the Veteran Health Care System in Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson.
They hold annual “Christmas Shops” at these locations where hundreds of veterans
shop, at no cost, for themselves and their loved ones.
The Arizona American Legion Auxiliary partners with the Arizona Veterans
Administration to conduct a Veteran’s Creative Arts Festival. The competition is part
of the VA’s recreation therapy program designed to further rehabilitate both
inpatients and outpatients. Over 100 entries ranging from art, music, dance,
drama and creative writing were entered in the 2017 Arizona festival. Learn more
Arizona members donate clothing and personal care items to local veteran organizations such as Veterans Helping Veterans, Veterans First and Mary Ellen’s Place. They attend and contribute truckloads of clothing and other goods to local Stand downs supporting veterans. One local unit holds parties for visually blind lady veterans twice a year. Arizona units raised over $50,000 for Soldier’s Best Friend—an organization that pairs veterans suffering from PTSD with rescued shelter dogs. One Arizona unit was recently recognized with the National President’s Award of Excellence for their efforts to make and deliver food to homeless veterans in their inner city community. Sometimes the effort is collaborative and greatly effects many: the Arizona American Legion Family donated $100,000 to the Tucson Fisher House—a home away from home for families of veterans seeking care at the VA. Other times the effort is one member who greatly effects one veteran-- like when a Green Valley Unit member ensures that a veteran who needs rehab at the VA has the resources to get to the session with some cash to spare. These described efforts just skim the surface of the work being done across Arizona.
Learn more about the American Legion Auxiliary VA&R program at the Auxiliary’s National website
Poppies at Peoria’s Chick Fil A on Veteran’s Day
Coming home may be the end of one journey for many veterans; it is also the beginning of a new journey to transition to a “new normal.” Helping them get there is at the core of the purpose and service of the American Legion Auxiliary. Members are passionate about providing care and comfort to our heroic U.S. service members who are so highly deserving of everything we can possibly do for them.
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Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our
veterans has been an important goal of the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program since
its inception in 1921. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Arizona Auxiliary units distribute
tens of thousands of red crepe paper poppies—nearly all handmade by veterans as part of
their therapeutic rehabilitation. Poppies have been distributed by Arizona members at
Major League Baseball Spring and Fall Training games, local merchant locations like
Fry’s Marketplace, Chick Fil A and Walmart/Sam’s Club and at poppy breakfasts, memorials
and gatherings commemorating veterans. The tens of thousands of donated dollars
gathered go directly to assist veterans in our communities.
Learn more about the
Gracious Veterans accept food donations at Camp Bravo with Pam Gorecki and Linda Welch Lmt representing Vail's Unit 109. Camp Bravo, on Tucson's South side, is a place where homeless vets are sheltered, nourished and protected.
Unit 62 in Peoria gave quilts to Female Veterans living in transitional housing in Prescott.
Phoenix area units hold their 7th Annual Christmas Celebration honoring female Veterans at Mary Ellen's Place--transitional housing leading to independence.