By Laurelle Walsh
The 36 ladies of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 120 will be out in force this weekend, offering the Legion’s iconic red crêpe-paper poppies that raise funds for veterans, military service members and their families.
Poppies will be available at the Evergreen IGA and Hank’s Harvest Foods on Friday and Saturday (May 23 – 24), at the Methow Valley Rodeo on Saturday and Sunday (May 24 – 25), and at the Sullivan Cemetery on Monday, Memorial Day (May 26).
The money offered in exchange for a poppy is a donation that goes straight to assisting veterans, explained Unit 120 president Gail Surette. “Some people give $10, others give a quarter,” Surette said. “Everything we do is for veterans.”
The poppies are made by veterans, who receive a small stipend for their efforts, according to the American Legion.
Each year in early December, with money raised from poppy donations, local auxiliary members shop for Christmas gifts in Winthrop and Twisp and ship Christmas boxes to the Spokane VA Medical Center and Spokane Veterans home. Over $4,000 went to the project in 2013, treasurer Susie Gardner reported.
A Memorial Day ceremony will be held on Monday at the Sullivan Cemetery located on Wister Way in Winthrop. Starting at 8 a.m., auxiliary members will place swags and Legion members will place flags on the graves of about 150 veterans.
The ceremony begins at 11 a.m., when auxiliary members will place a wreath on the cemetery’s World War I monument and tomb of the “unknowns.” The American Legion color guard will present the colors and fire a volley of three rifle shots, and Liberty Bell High School student Willy Duguay will play “Taps.” The Sullivan Cemetery board will serve coffee and cookies.
“A lot of old-time valley families will be there at their family graves,” said Gardner.
Last week, Jennifer Duguay’s fifth graders at Methow Valley Elementary made poppy posters as part of a nationwide American Legion Auxiliary contest. Local auxiliary members judged the posters and will give every student who participated an authentic Susan B. Anthony dollar, Gardner said. Posters are displayed in the Winthrop and Twisp post offices.
Poster contest winners are Lindsay Worrell, first place; second place, Keeley Brooks; and third place Alexys Abramoski.
Duguay explained to her students that the red poppy has come to symbolize the sacrifices made by service members, and read them the poem “In Flanders Fields,” which begins, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.”
With funds raised from selling refreshments at Christmas at the End of the Road and raffling quilts and gift baskets at the Christmas bazaars, Auxiliary Unit 120 is able to give an annual $500 scholarship to a Liberty Bell High School graduate who has a service member in the family. This year the ladies were also able to donate money to victims of the landslide in Oso, Wash.
Local auxiliary members volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors and The Cove Methow Valley Food Bank. They also bake pies to serve at the annual Okanogan Electric Cooperative meeting.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 120 is active throughout the year and meets at the Barn in Winthrop the first Monday of every month at noon. For more information, contact Surette at 996-2154.