First Posted: 10/12/2009
PILOT MOUNTAIN For almost 30 years, the ladies of the Pilot Mountain VFW Ladies Auxiliary have enjoyed both working alongside and in support of the veterans of VFW Post 9436. Their busy history continues today with members, inspired by a patriotic family bond, joining in support of their own and other veterans.
The ladies auxiliary group was formed in 1980 with 16 charter members. Its ranks have grown through the years, with eligibility open to the wives, widows, daughters and granddaughters of any veteran who has served overseas. The group now includes more than 100 members and, though its membership has aged, remains active in a host of wide-ranging activities. Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month, beginning at 7 p.m. at the VFW Post, located just off Key Street. Anyone interested in becoming a member is invited to attend.
According to Ladies Auxiliary President Margie Nichols, the groups main focus will always be on its veterans, both locally and beyond.
Veterans in area nursing homes are visited and are honored with special attention on holidays. Group members also travel to Salisbury twice each year, hosting a picnic with home-cooked food at the veterans hospital there. Patients also receive magazines, quality used clothing and diddy bags filled with treats and needed personal items.
The group annually organizes one of the now-famous Buddy Poppy drives, with all proceeds going to local veterans and their families.
A favorite annual project of the group is its Hobo Quilts. Ladies gather at the VFW Post for a full day of constructing the homemade sleeping bags. They use donated blankets, quilts and bed spreads to form the warmth-providing center for the bags, with an outer layer of polyester fabric or sheets. The completed bags are then carried to the Samaritan Ministries shelter and soup kitchen in Winston-Salem, where many end up in the hands of the homeless, including some veterans.
Other projects include their recently completed Christmas stocking drive, with stockings stuffed with goodies and combined with others from across the state for delivery in time for Christmas to soldiers now serving overseas.
The group also makes a point of honoring their comrades in VFW Post 9436. One such opportunity will come next month at their regular meeting, when the ladies will pay tribute to Post members with an annual hot dog supper.
An effort is also made to carry their devotion to patriotism to the community and especially to members of the next generation. Flags are given to local schools, along with pencils, rulers and patriotic pledge cards. Among its other contributions to the local community, the group hosts an annual blood drive.
On other projects, ladies auxiliary members join with their Post 9436 comrades to serve their community. The groups combine to sponsor scholarship essay contests at local schools, with young winners receiving monetary prizes to help with education.
Another example of the camaraderie between the groups will be on display on Oct. 24 at the Armfield Center. The day has been designated as National Make-A-Difference Day and is described as the nations largest day of volunteering. In support of the project, both veterans and auxiliary members will gather at the center to pick up trash and clean up the grounds.
The two groups enjoy working together, noted VFW Post 9436 Commander Don Isaacs, and anything we can do for each other, were glad to do it. Our ladies auxiliary is involved, active and critical to the VFW organization and all we do. These ladies are so instrumental in accomplishing all kinds of activities, much more than we are. Each is committed to veterans because theyve seen the struggles veterans have experienced in the past and they want to make that path easier if they possibly can.
The ladies auxiliary also finds support in its own ranks. According to Nichols, members develop a deep friendship and make a point of looking out for each other.
For many of us, she said, this is like a second family. We stay in touch and support each other and we help out as needed. We enjoy working together.
But, like its VFW counterparts, many in the group have been slowed by age and are no longer able to regularly participate. This dilemma, Nichols noted, highlights the need for new members from the next generations.
Our membership is aging, she explained, and both groups would gladly welcome new members. We need veterans and family members of those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm. We need younger members to keep our organization alive and active.