On Jan. 26, the blustery winds off Lake Michigan -- with sub-zero temperatures and major snowfall -- did little to dampen the excitement, fun and team efforts of Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 in hosting the post’s annual Vegas-Night fundraiser event. “For the second year in a row, we surpassed our fundraising expectations for the American Legion National Emergency Fund [NEF],” according to Post 28 Vegas-Night program chair and past Post 28 commander Chris Jarvis.
What inspired Post 28 to utilize their annual Vegas-Night event in 2018 and 2019 to benefit NEF program recipients? Jarvis said that “in 2017, The American Legion asked posts nationwide to consider helping veterans – negatively impacted from natural disasters -- by donating to the National Emergency Fund. Grand Haven Post 28 answered the call by utilizing our annual Vegas-Night event.” Combined proceeds from 2018 and 2019 Vegas-Night events “were approximately $8,000,” according to Jarvis.
Planning for the Vegas-Night event begins in late August and is a team effort at Post 28. Legionnaires, SAL, Riders and Auxiliary work simultaneously, recruiting volunteers (through post family units), planning food for the event with the Post 28 Auxiliary, completing required state licensing applications (with post manager guidance), and submitting state applications for all volunteer card dealers. In promoting the event, Post 28 utilizes local and regional broadcast [radio and television] media opportunities, digital mediums and traditional printed flyers.
On event [Vegas-Night] day, the energy and excitement throughout Post 28 was high among the more than 60 volunteers, busy ensuring everything ran smoothly with a fun casino-style vibe. Signage, card table and Money Wheel set-up, placement of licensing permits and rules, and food preparation all happen in concert. After completion of the walk-through and examination of documents by the state regulator -- to ensure all aspects of the event were in compliance with state regulations -- seats at the 18 Black Jack tables and two 7-Card-Stud tables filled immediately -- with the Money Wheel -- spinning constantly throughout the night. Jarvis estimates that more than 200 people attended the event despite the brutally cold outdoor temperatures and heavy snowfall.
The Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 annual Vegas-Night is a positive example of how Legionnaires, SAL, Riders, Auxiliary, post managers and bar staff can come together as a team to produce fun-filled events benefiting veterans causes. “The environment was so positive,” Jarvis noted, “many volunteers expressed the desire to volunteer again next year.”