VFW auxiliary staying active
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 11:28 p.m.
Long before Loretta Lynn popularized "Stand By Your Man," the 105 women of Gainesville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2811 have been vigorously shouldering a major load of Post
activities - standing by their men who have come home from five major wars since 1941.
For instance, they have "adopted" all 60 of Florida's POW-MIA from every war from World War II to today's Iraqi conflict.
In addition to many other regular projects, they volunteer with the sick at the local Veterans Hospital and hand out free coffee and doughnuts every Monday for all patients, whether they are residential or walk-ins from any locale in North Florida or South Georgia.
They donated $3,600, a huge chunk of their budget, to such causes.
The VFW Ladies Auxiliary is made up of active wives, widows, daughters, sisters, and friends of the VFW's nearly 400 members. (Publicity mails out 500 newsletters and bulletins every month in the Gainesville area.)
The members range from age 32 to 80-plus, and are nurses, housewives and homemakers, office and sales workers, professors, mothers and great-grandmothers, nutritionists, and musicians - none of whom had any special training for the volunteer jobs they enthusiastically perform. They are self-recruited, self trained, and always on the lookout for a new recruit.
President Sheryl Baer announced that FedEx has pledged free pickup and shipping for all VFW donations (not just Post 2811) to the children of Iraq - coloring books, pencils, school supplies, even books in English
"The best way to make friends in a foreign country is through the children," she said.
Noting that the VFW has reversed a long-time trend, Baer noted that as of May, the Post has had 100 percent smoke-free meetings - a history-making event.
"Even Commandant Gary Powers is taking a Smoke-Free Program at the VA," she said.
The Ladies Auxiliary now meets in the bar room, inhaling only clean, oxygenated gulps of air-conditioned freshness. Even the walls are dotted with special "smoke eating" air decontaminators.
"Nobody leaves here with smoky-smelling clothes or smoke-filled lungs anymore," Baer said.
Commandant Bob Gasche said "Out of the more than 200 Florida VFW posts, our 2811 and its auxiliary are among the most highly active in the state. We're proud of that. Anyone interested in becoming a member of either 2811 or the Ladies Auxiliary - you don't even have to be a veteran or a family member - is welcome to come to our meetings."
Call 376-7660 for directions.
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