By Wade Coggeshall
AVON — AVON — The American Legion here finds itself on the other side of the coin when it comes to need.
The organization is raising funds to construct a building at its new location on Old U.S. 36.
“We’re always in the business of giving funds away, never to gather funds,” said David Palmer, Post 145 adjutant. “This is something new for us.”
They’re kicking off their fundraising season with a “Memorial Day Week Sale” May 6 through 11 at the current location, 377 S. S.R. 267. The main items for sale are flowers that have been donated by local businesses. So far they are: Hobbs Nursery, Kroger in Avon, Lowes in Avon, Avon Gardens, Frazee’s Nursery, Home Depot, Damon’s Nursery, and Holiness Field Ministry in Plainfield. Palmer has made certificates of appreciation for each.
“It’s right before Mother’s Day, which is important because people are usually scrambling to get flowers,” said Bruce Curry, current Post 145 commander.
The sale is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day out of the small building next to the post. Free coffee and bagels will be available each morning, then hotdogs, chips, and soda at lunch for a minimal fee. Sons of the American Legion will have a cookout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that Saturday.
“It increases in activity as we keep planning,” Palmer said of the fundraiser.
In addition to flowers, it also includes merchandise for sale from both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“You can’t really find patriotic and veteran stuff in the open market,” Palmer said.
This is the second year for the flower sale. Last year the legion raised about $550 in two days.
“I was really thrilled, considering it was the first time,” Palmer said. “This year I thought, let’s expand that a little bit. This is a good time to start off our fundraising activities (for the year).”
Other fundraisers are in the works. A ‘50s dance will be conducted May 10 at the new location. It’s open to the public and admission is $5. Cornfield Mafia will perform there on July 19.
Ongoing fundraisers include an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $5 from 8 to 11 a.m. every fourth Saturday at the current location. There’s also a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament there every third Sunday. Both are open to the public, as are most activities hosted by the American Legion.
“We’re trying to connect ourselves more with the community than we ever have,” said Frank Parks, first vice commander for Post 145. “I don’t think they’re quite aware of what we do. We don’t just sit around here and trade war stories. We do a tremendous amount for the community.”
Right now, though, a big concern is funding a new building. One reason for the need is that Post 145 has almost 900 members.
“This place couldn’t hold that many if everyone came together,” Palmer said.
Another is that the current post is right next to CSX’s railroad tracks on State Road 267. There’s been talk of expanding the tracks, which would cut into the American Legion property, and potentially building a bridge over the railroad there for a year and a half now. That’s what prompted the post to buy a new property. But negotiations between the county and state remain fluid.
“What’s critical to us is if the gears kick in again, we’re under the gun to get the money we need to get that building so we have some place to move to,” Parks said.
As well, they’re estimating the cost for a new building to be $1.5 million.
“We’re not going to make that selling breakfasts,” said Richard Culp, Post 145’s incoming commander. “We’re looking for donations and corporate sponsorships.”
For more information, visit the website at AvonLegion.org.