Members of American Legion Auxiliary Illinois Unit 474, along with many Auxiliary units across the country, were disappointed that their usual volunteer work was cut short in 2020 due to COVID-19 regulations.

But having recently received a Veteran Projects Fund grant from the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, the unit was determined to assist veterans during a challenging year. With the grant funds, they were able to purchase 37 Echo Shows – one for each of the patient rooms at the blind center at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Hines Medical Center.

“These wonderful devices will assist veterans in their everyday lives by making information more easily accessible and by providing an easy way of communication with their family and friends,” said Carollee Junge, president of Illinois Unit 474.

Echo Shows are voice-activated devices with cameras that allow patients’ loved ones to see them virtually. This capability alone proved priceless, as many visits were limited or banned altogether in the past year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

They are also able to help keep a patient’s schedule in order, or to provide them with the news or the weather each morning.

“This is a two-way benefit,” Carollee said. “The veterans’ lives will be better, and the members of our unit receive the joy of helping someone.”

Despite the obstacles presented in 2020, Illinois Unit 474 was able to support veterans with an ALA Foundation grant. You can apply for a Veteran Projects Fund grant today and help your local veterans connect with their loved ones by visiting