In 2017 the Department of California generalized the eventual demise of their decades-long staple Ways & Means programs. A continuous steady decline in revenues for their VA&R Division forced the department to explore new avenues of fundraising, certainly no easy task given today's competition in the veterans-fundraising world.
Long-standing programs such as Address Labels, Calendars, Christmas Cards and Sweepstakes have played themselves out, and California has seen steady declines that clearly project their eventual closures.
California had counted on the huge revenue streams for their programs for decades from these staple programs, and being creative for a program that could replace these seemed a very daunting task.
In 2017 an idea was brought forth through a project team for a coin bank made out of a WWII GI helmet. The project team outlined a program by where members and veteran-friendly businesses could both participate. The project was unanimously adopted by the Department of California Fall DEC with an initial investment of $100,000 as seed money for development and production of a first order of 10,000 helmets.
In the pursuit of development, California's CALVAR Foundation patented three patents for the WWI, WWII and Kevlar-style helmets, along with trademarking "Helmets for Heroes" and "You Bet Your Change Will Help a Vet."
With a production run in early 2018 of 10,000 helmets, California was able to distribute approx. 2,000 helmets three months before the June department convention. California's VA&R Division received a total of donations of approx. $45,000, and clearly the Helmets for Heroes project was off the ground and running.
California has a lot of work to do to build the program, but with declining revenues from other programs California sees that a NEW beginning must start somewhere, and hopefully before the other fundraising programs collapse.
California recognizes that without their VA&R Division, a major pillar of Veterans Helping Veterans will catastrophically cripple the main mission of The American Legion and its relevancy for future generations of veterans.