GRANDVIEW Anyone who thinks collecting pennies is a waste of time hasn’t hung out with the members of the Fred E. Hayes Post 57 of The American Legion.
Each year in February, the post solicits donations of 28 cents each day of the month, which makes sense .
There are only 28 day in February most years. The drive begins Feb. 1.
“We are looking for 28 cents per person during the month,” Post Vice Commander Dudley Brown said. Donators can come from schools, businesses and individuals in the community and surrounding areas
Brown said the [penny drive, a popular event in the lower valley helps to support veteran and youth programs nationally and in the Lower Valley sponsored by The American Legion.
In what has become an annual community event the last five years, Post 57 is again leading its month-long “Penny-a-Day” campaign.
In the previous four years, the Post has raised thousands of dollars to support high profile Legion national charities, including Operation Comfort Warriors and the National Emergency Fund, Brown said.
“The community fell in love with the idea and it has become well known in national Legion circles,” he said.
Upwards of $4,000 has been raised in previous campaigns.
“We always remind people there are very few things that cost less than 30 cents these days,” Brown said. “But less than 30 cents can make a huge difference to the national and local programs we sponsor.”
During the past years, all funds raised were sent to support national programs. Operation Comfort Warriors supported wounded troops, including those at Joint Base Lewis McChord and veterans at the new nursing home at the Walla Walla VA Hospital. The National Emergency Fund (NEF) provided assistance to veterans who lost their homes in natural disasters.
“Some of our donations came back to help veterans who lost their homes in fires in North Central Washington the last few years,” Post Adjutant Jim Davidson said
Again this year, the Post has elected to retain the bulk of donations in the Valley to support the Post’s expanding youth programs of scholarships and awards.
“A small amount of money will be sent to the Legion’s major charities,” Davidson said.
Those programs include OCW, NEF, the Legacy Scholarship fund, Soldier’s Wish and the Child Welfare Foundation.
“However, all other donations will stay here to be used locally,” he said
Additionally, the Post supports a Christmas party for hospitalized patients at the Walla Walla VA Hospital and works to assist local military members and their families.
The Post also provides scholarships to students attending American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.
“These are expensive scholarships and always a struggle to fund,” Davidson said.
The Post started a program three years ago to recognize scholars in Grandview High School athletic and vocational programs and reinstated the annual School Award programs that recognize outstanding youth in the schools.
“All of this takes money,” Brown said.
“We can’t do it with our very limited dues income, so we need the community’s support.”
He said unlike other programs, 100 percent of all donated funds goes directly to this program for the stated purposes.
“Our individual membership dues pay for all marketing and administrative costs, so donors can be assured every penny of their donation will go to this effort. We never divert funds,” he said.
“It actually costs us money to conduct this annual effort, but that comes from our dues,” he added.
The Post is challenging its own small number of members and the Auxiliary in this effort and encourages all individuals, schools, churches and businesses in the area to help with this effort.
“We are only asking for 28 cents per person,” Davidson said, “but we’ll take nickels, dimes, quarters, dollar coins, currency and checks.”
The Post will recognize the highest dollar amount contributor with a plaque, and the school with the highest contribution by their students and staff will also receive a plaque.
The awards in previous years have gone to the City of Grandview and Eli and Kathy’s Restaurant for the community effort and McClure School for the Grandview Schools.
Donation cans will soon appear in various businesses. If a business would like to host a donation can, they are asked to contact Jim or Nancy Davidson at 509-882-1984.
Individual checks for donations may be made out to The American Legion and mailed to The American Legion, PO Box 56, Grandview, WA., 98930.
Arrangements to pick-up larger coin donations may be made by calling Davidson.