The youngest generation of veterans are reaching out and standing up at American Legion Post 436 in Jourdanton, Texas. Isaias and Theresea Cruz, a married dual-military retired couple, are taking charge and leading the movement. With Legion elections right around the corner, they are looking to take over with the assistance of the Vietnam War veterans who have been running the facility for the past decade. Together we can create a partnership of young and old and take The American Legion into the next decade stronger than ever. At the end of the day it’s about that spirit of being a veteran and what we can do to make the world a better place, one veteran at a time. We want to let all veterans know about all the good things The American Legion can do as an organization in the local community, and we are very excited about the impact we are having already. Recently our post put on a Christmas event we called the SGT Santa Project. The goal was to help as many in the community as we could with one single event. We were very successful and look forward to doing it again next year.
The event took place Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, and started at 5 p.m. Proceeds of the event went to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Remaining food items were donated to Meals on Wheels located in Poteet, as well as delivered to area families in need. Preparations started days in advance to set up the hall and prepare all the food items. From the minute you entered the hall, guests were greeted by American Legion members and veterans. The centerpiece of the hall was a beautiful 6-foot live Christmas tree decked out in red, white and blue in honor of all those who serve or have served in the military. Retired SFC Isaias Cruz Jr. led the charge of deep-frying 31 turkeys for the event. The turkeys were graciously donated by H-E-B Plus off Zazamora and Military in San Antonio. Retired veteran Theresea Cruz and American Legion members orchestrated the entire event from start to finish. The event started with a free warm home-cooked meal that consisted of ham or turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn and a dinner roll. Guests were served food and refreshments by Legion members and students from area schools. Soft Christmas music and inviting decorations warmed the souls of those who attended. 300 guests were in attendance in anticipation of winning giveaways and to bid on the very large auction. Volunteer Mary Calvillo led the kitchen volunteers in meal serving and all food preparations. Volunteers came from all around Atascosa County to help in supporting the mission of charity at Christmas. Isaac Paredez dressed in his Navy fatigues was the evening MC in charge of serenading guests and announcing upcoming events. Theresea Cruz read a heartwarming speech about what the evening was about: the importance of giving back. She states, “We need to tell the wounded warriors of our great nation that Atascosa cares about them, and we did just that tonight.” Veterans from all war eras were asked to stand and were given a round of applause for their dedication to service. The stage at the Legion hall was adorned with gifts donated by several businesses in Atascosa County, 48 to be exact. Current commander Adolph Cumpian took the initiative as auctioneer for the evening, reminding guests the goal was to raise as much money for the WWP as possible. Guests were very entertained by Cumpian's auctioning and were excited to bid. The big-ticket item was a 46” Philips smart TV donated by Aaron's in Pleasanton. Manager Anthony Mata, who was in attendance with several employees, coordinated with the Legion to rent a chair for Santa which was proudly displayed on the stage for guests to see. Throughout the event drawings took place to win items such as gift cards, homemade carrot cakes, and the large door prize donated by Jourdanton Hardware of BBQ rubs and sauces and other items. Mr. and Mrs. Wickersham were in attendance as Santa and Mrs. Claus, greeting families and wishing Merry Christmas to all. Santa and Mrs. Claus sat on the stage taking Christmas pictures with children and guests in attendance. Elf helper Raven Aguero helped take pictures and assist the children with getting on the stage to see Santa.
In all, the event was a success and The American Legion is looking forward to hosting the event next year.