by Lisa Tome
Organizations and individuals are lined up to ask Sons of American Legion (SAL) Squadron 135 for money.
But according to Squadron Commander Dave Barr and First Vice Commander Emory Thompson, funds to assist non profits are hard to obtain.
The men explained that when it comes to doling out donations, veterans come first. The SAL funds items such as televisions for veterans at Perry Point. Next in line, comes donations to youth organizations such as the little league, scout projects, Special Olympics, and more.
They've added innovative fundraisers in hopes of collecting money, which they will in turn, donate back to the community. On Saturday, September 14, the post at 300 Cherry Street, will host Jack Foreaker's Adult Puppet Show for those ages 21 and above. Cost is $10 per person. There will be a cash bar. Snacks will be provided.
"We have got to do other things," said Thompson, who along with Barr, explained that events that they used to host, such as spaghetti dinners, are no longer profitable. The squadron used to host two spaghetti dinners per year. With 10 members working two full days, they made about $400 profit. "It's not worth the time for $400," said Barr.
"We are looking for more bang for our buck. People are getting older. We have less than a dozen (members) we can depend on," said Thompson. The men said that raffles used to be a good fundraiser. Now, they have to sell tickets for as many as four months to take in what they used to earn in half that time span. "People aren't taking chances with money that they used to," said Thompson. "We had a crab feast scheduled, but we had to cancel. People just aren't spending money. The economy is not up."
They said at the post, less people are using the gambling machines. They feel that Hollywood Casino has had an impact. But the post has received grant money from the casino. They think one solution would be more people joining the post. "New soldiers are not joining the VFWs and Legions. We are just starting to get Vietnam veterans in the legion," said Thompson.
The SAL isn't the only local veterans organization struggling. On May 1, the canteen (bar) at Chesapeake City VFW Post 7687 closed because the post was behind in state taxes. They have to pay taxes to get the post's liquor license back. At that time. Post Commander Jim Hutton explained that repairs to the building's HVAC system, the need for more fundraising, and a decline in membership had resulted in the closure, which he hoped was temporary.