Karen Runk, a 13-year American Legion Auxiliary member and president of ALA Wisconsin Unit 245, always admired the work that her local American Legion post did with Camp American Legion – a place for veterans, military, and their families to come together in a safe and comfortable environment in Lake Tomahawk, Wis.
Camp American Legion hosts around 1,000 veterans each year, who are able to come and unwind alongside fellow veterans with shared life experiences.
“My favorite part [about Camp American Legion] is that veterans can escape from life’s pressures and relax at camp,” Karen said.
Years ago, her local American Legion post was able to help in the construction of some of the boat piers at the camp, and even helped sponsor their own cabin.
Karen was determined to get her unit involved as well – but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Karen, like so many Auxiliary members, had to start thinking outside the box to continue her service of veterans.
“I’m quite proud of Unit 245 because we did some really creative things,” Karen said.
“Unit 245 is a generous group of people who have committed themselves to each other and to serving veterans.”
One way that Karen was able to keep the momentum going, despite a lack of access to veterans’ facilities, was through her Thrivent Choice Dollars. Though these dollars could only be given to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, she was able to send them to the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, where she then could apply for a subgrant to use those funds for her mission-related project.
When they were awarded the grant, Karen and her unit were able to purchase pillows and pillow covers for all of the beds at Camp American Legion.
“Our members are very pleased and proud to provide physical comfort for those who have sacrificed so much and given of themselves to protect our way of life,” Karen said.
Directors of Camp American Legion were incredibly grateful for the support, as they have seen an 85-percent decrease in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This project adds to the veterans’ quality of life,” said one director. “The best gesture a host can offer their guests: brand new pillows and covers.”
If you would like to support a local veterans camp or shelter through funds that are typically reserved for 501(c)(3) organizations, discover how the ALA Foundation can help at www.ALAFoundation.org/grants.