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December 7, 2013

Veterans get Christmas spirit

MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville’s Georgia War Veterans Home held a gift shop Thursday and Friday. Georgia American Legion Auxiliary units coordinated their efforts bringing countless donated gifts for the GWVH residents.

Each veteran could peruse the items, picking gifts for family members. Auxiliary ladies set up a gift-wrapping station as well.

Since the mid-1970s the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Georgia has coordinated the veterans’ shop throughout the state of Georgia’s eight veteran’s facilities. Georgia American Legion Auxiliary covers in-state veterans, as well as a one facility in both Alabama and Florida.

District 10 Unit President Joyce Lemonds enjoys the vet-friendly atmosphere.

“I love it. It’s the reason I joined the auxiliary to help the veterans. We have more fun than they do when we come down here,” Lemonds said. “It just makes you feel good to do something for somebody else during Christmastime.”

Statewide units hold fundraisers to support the gift giving cause.

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 6 President Carrol Griffin said the units not actively participating contribute funds to help also.

Auxiliary members talk to each and every veteran staying in the GWVH’s Wood and Russell buildings to see what their gift giving needs are.

“It helps when we talk to them personally. It saves the staff from having to do that and also gives us an idea of who it is we are shopping for,” Griffin said.

Former American Legion Post 76 commander and representative for the Milledgeville vet facility through the state body James Earnhardt said the local veteran residents look forward to the gift shop every Christmas.

“It gives them something to do when they come in here and shop,” he said. “It’s an ongoing thing all around the state.”

GWVH facility representative Kathy Browder-Woods assists other Georgia auxiliaries coordinating countless events to engage the veterans every year.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing because I’m married to a 22-year Air Force veteran,” Woods said.

There are 149 Georgia American Legion Auxiliary units. Of those statewide units, 23 supported the Milledgeville GWVH donation effort.

Auxiliary units present for the holiday event included Unit 6 and 523 Milledgeville, Unit 76 Fort Valley, 594 Warner Robins, Unit 233 Loganville, Unit 64 and 531 Monroe and 583 Eatonton.

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