If you’ve ever snapped the tab off of your soda can for the Ronald McDonald house, you’ve helped a family stay with their child during a difficult time.
Perhaps you’ve helped collected large bags of these pop tops, which are aluminum and are turned into money to donate to the Ronald McDonald House. These houses are located close to hospitals at which children are treated for serious illness or injuries, and they allow parents to stay nearby for a minimum cost, according to the Ronald McDonald House Charities website.
One of the American Legion’s many projects includes collecting the tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. According to American Legion member Carlton Hawkins, the Rockingham American Legion Post 147 collected 55 pounds of tabs over the past few months, resulting in $2,500 in donations.
“We gave out the bags at church and got full bags back from that,” said Hawkins. “I collected them at my last job with Jenkins Auto Parts, and I do the weather in the mornings on the radio and mentioned it there. We have an old flag drop box in Rockingham and people have been putting them there as well. We take the collection up to Raleigh three times a year. We accumulate the most tabs in June.”
Hawkins said to get an idea of how far the donation goes in the Ronald McDonald House, he said a friend of his needed to stay there while his child was treated at Duke Hospital. Hawkins said the stay cost $10 a night, and included a lockable room with beds, and access to a kitchen with food in it.
This is just one of the many projects the American Legion heard reports on at their mid-winter conference in Raleigh just a few weeks ago, where the National Commander of American Legion, Jim Koutz, spoke to attendees.
“He spoke about different projects, membership numbers and the kids in our community youth service,” said Hawkins, who attended the event along with Richard Lunceford, American Legion’s 16th District Commander.
The National Commander of the American Legion, Koutz, is from Indiana and is a Vietnam veteran. The Governor of Indiana appointed him the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005 and he served as President of that commission in 2007. He served four years and was re-appointed in January 2009 to serve four more years.
Hawkins said Koutz spoke about Operation Comfort Warrior, which collects 25 cents from each American Legion member and funnels it back into veterans’ care programs to supplement them. These funds may help veterans with costs for things like over-sized sweatpants which are easy to wear with prosthetic legs, or iPods which help veterans deal with ringing in their ears from tinnitus caused by loud explosions at war.
Koutz also spoke about the youth involvement in American Legion, and that $18,000 is available for a scholarship.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.