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American Legion of Hartselle brings spirit of season to local families

Special to the Enquirer

The holiday season can be filled with joy and happiness, but for those struggling financially or otherwise, that same season can be difficult. Members of Post 52 stepped forward this holiday season to assist others less fortunate.

“Our post has consistently, over many decades, provided toys to underprivileged children in our community,” said Gil Bennett, Post 52 vice commander and chairman of the Children and Youth Committee. “This year we committed ourselves to improving and expanding our Christmas program – the expansion being that we wanted to identify and assist area families in need.

“In addition to providing gifts to school children, we were able to acquire information on many local families that were struggling, some without basic necessities, and determine the specific needs of those families,” Bennett explained. “Much of our focus and energy this year centered on providing the best holiday season for these families that were truly in need and would otherwise go without.”

That commitment was on display in the months of November and December when Legion and Auxiliary members began purchasing gifts: clothes, blankets, shoes, school materials, appliances and toys.

In addition to the many gifts purchased, Post 52 members also donated household cleaning items and personal hygiene products.

Dec. 11, Post members gathered to wrap gifts, sort donated items and deliver the gifts for distribution.

Bennett thanked several members for their contribution to the project.

“The American Legion has been performing holiday drives for many decades,” he said, “but without the individual efforts of Legionnaires and Auxiliary members such as June Bennett and Dana Ferguson, this project would not have been possible.

“Special thanks also to the many Post members who gave their time and resources to ensure this project was a success.”

Thirteen families, comprising 43 people, were sponsored. Multiple gifts were purchased for each individual family member, with more than 215 gifts purchased.

In addition to the family donations, 54 additional presents were acquired and delivered to local school children.

Auxiliary members also assembled and delivered 29 gift bags to veterans in local nursing homes.

Bennett said by the end of the drive, a total of $5,700 was donated toward the gifts by the Post 52 Legion and Auxiliary.

“This was without a doubt our most successful Christmas Drive since I have been a member of this Post,” said Post Commander Michael Ferguson. “Vice Commander Bennett’s objective was to ensure our donations had a greater impact and that those donations reached the people in our community that needed it the most. Because of his vision, planning and execution, we were able to accomplish everything we set out to do.”