For the third year the members of Warrenton, Va., American Legion Post 72 Legion Riders have completed their annual mission. One of the members, comrade Sam Jesselson of the Post 72 ALR came up with the idea of asking area school students to make cards for our veterans who are serving now to secure our freedom as well as our veterans who have completed their service in the past. This idea was well accepted by the members of the ALR and they started putting it in place three years ago.
The first year there were only seven schools that agreed to ask the students to make their homemade cards, which produced a little over 700 cards. The post collated and saw to it that the cards were sent to servicemen and women serving overseas, here at home, and in the area veterans hospitals. Jesselson and the members felt we could do more and they worked to have other schools join in for this project the next year.
They worked hard to make sure the other schools in the area understood what the project was all about. The second year 13 schools participated with over 3,000 cards being made by students to send to our vets. They found that each year the number of schools increased as well as the number of cards made by the area students for our troops. This year there were 15 schools with over 5,000 cards collected.
So many cards came in that the Post 72, ALR discovered that they needed help getting the cards out to the veterans. One of the hardest things is to find out the locations of troops and the address to send them to. Fortunately, they had some families in the area give their sons and daughters unit address to send cards to. This has been one of the best ways to ensure they get directly to our troops. Post ALR has continued to request any family member that has someone serving overseas to let us know the address to send cards to. They have also had others step in to help.
The organization Cup of Joe for Joe, which is an organization that helps provide coffee and other refreshments to our troop stepped in and helped get the cards out to the troops serving overseas. Also this year the USO has assisted in getting the cards out to our troops.
The way the ALR get the cards is a favorite of the area students. Jesselson schedules each school a time for them to have the ALR and friends pick up the cards from the students. Each year around Memorial Day the ALR get on their bikes and ride to each school where the students are there to turn over their cards. This event has grown and we have added other post ALR members, and bikers to participate.
Last year Marine Sgt. Mike Fresher contacted us when he received a card while at Walter Reed Hospital to thank us for the card, stating that it helped lift up his spirits. He came with us this year to some of the schools to thank some of the students and pick up the cards. Fresher lost both of his legs and had other major injuries while serving in Afghanistan.
The ALR members of Post 72 are looking forward to this project growth each year and will be continuing it as long as they can. If you have a servicemember serving overseas that would enjoy getting a card for their unit, please contact the American Legion Post 72 in Warrenton, Va., and they will do all they can to make sure cards are sent to them.
Respectfully submitted by Paul Baker, Past Post 72 Commander and Past Director and founder Post 72 American Legion Riders.