Meals, Veterans Parade, Supporting the Troops all part of the repertoire
The Buffalo Disabled American Veterans Chapter 62 and the DAV Auxiliary members have continued to serve the area veterans and members of the community throughout the months of isolation and shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that began back in mid-March. This past spring, veterans Richard Beavers and Richard Hrdlicka teamed up, along with their wives and other volunteers, to prepare and serve lunches to veterans and seniors after the pandemic closed the Montgomery Senior Center. They continued the program all during the summer serving an average of 35 people per weekday. All safety precautions were followed, and several community members were able to enjoy a prepared hot meal daily.
DAVA members Marijo Macella and Yvonne Piland said they enjoy working together as a group and serving whoever needs help in the community.
“We’re like one big family here, and what we do to help others means so much to us,” Macella said.
The DAV and DAVA meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. with dinner and camaraderie. Anyone interested is invited to attend.
Chapter 62 DAV and DAVA just completed another fundraising event this past weekend.
Fun with poker
Last Saturday, a poker game was started at the DAV Chapter 62 building in Buffalo. This was not your usual gather around the table and place your bets poker game … this was the first annual DAV Poker Run and the players straddled motorcycles instead of folding chairs. About two dozen motorcyclists gathered to enjoy breakfast at the DAV Hall before the 9 a.m. leave-out time.
The route the poker players (motorcyclists) took, was an approximate 110-mile circle that included heading north on Mo. 73 to U.S. 54 where they would make their first stop at Bates 66 convenience store, purchase something and collect a receipt. They would then travel westward on U.S. 54 to Casey’s at Weaubleau and again make a purchase to get a receipt. They would continue west to Collins and then head south on Mo. 13, stopping at Pit Bull Powersports in Bolivar to grab a soft drink and a business card. Then going east on Mo. 32, they would return to Buffalo and the DAV building.
For every receipt and Pit Bull business card the players gathered, they were traded a playing card, and they were given a card at the start of the run and one at the finish line. The biker with the best hand of five cards was the winner.
The bikers could also participate in the Bug Run contest if they purchased a target. This stick-on target was attached to the motorcycle or helmet and whichever target was returned with a bug splattered closest to the bullseye, won the prize.
Returning around the noon hour, the poker-playing riders were treated to a barbecue chicken lunch with picnic trimmings, such as potato salad and baked beans. The event was established as a fundraiser to help with yearly expenses when DAV Chapter 62 performs its good deeds for others.
“We’ve been holding bingo nights, and now afternoons, for as long as I can remember,” Macella said, “at least since 1997 when Helen Crowder convinced me to be a part of the Auxiliary. In the beginning, we sometimes had as many as 50 to 100 playing bingo on Friday nights.”
Today, bingo at the DAV Hall takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday afternoons, but the doors open at noon so players can purchase a reasonably priced meal from the Veterans Grill operated by kitchen manager Jeff Melhorn and his Auxiliary helpers. The grill is open from noon until 2 p.m. and features homemade pies baked by Barbara Austin.
Bingo players have the option of purchasing a six-pack of cards for $15 or a nine-pack of cards for $20. There is an early bird special of 12 games for $1 per game and can be purchased at 12:30 p.m.
“The number of players has dwindled somewhat, probably because of the coronavirus, but we are slowly gaining them back,” said bingo Chairperson Peggy Roberts, who is helped by Hrdlicka, Macella, Piland and Beverly “Lefty” Leffingwell at all bingo events. “We still play it safe with social distancing and sanitizing the areas.”
The profits that come from bingo help subsidize the chapter’s expenses for other projects, but that doesn’t mean winners of each round can’t rake it in — $20 winnings per game. There is a Texas Blackout round that pays $100 and a Veterans Retreat Blackout, the last game played of the day, worth $200. If there are multiple winners of any category, the prize money is divided between them.
Macella said the cards and daubers are bought through the Missouri Gaming Commission.
Raffles, auctions and a fish fry
Chapter 62 DAV and DAVA groups are currently running a silent auction of various items to help raise funds. The items can be viewed and a bid placed on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday afternoons until Oct. 24, when the auction ends at the afternoon fish fry sponsored by DAV Chapter 62. Catfish, fries, slaw, hush puppies, coffee, iced tea, lemonade and desserts will be served from noon until 4 p.m. at the DAV building at 1100 N. Maple in Buffalo.
An ongoing quilt raffle to win a patriotic quilt is taking place until Nov. 14. The winner will be drawn after the Veterans Parade, and tickets can be bought up until the parade. Tickets can be purchased at the DAV Hall and from DAV and DAVA members.
Speaking of quilts, the Auxiliary will host a quilt tying day Oct. 13. Lap quilts that have been made throughout the year will be hand-tied and sent to veterans living at veterans homes in Mount Vernon, Columbia and St. James.
“Alice and Peggy Bancroft, and Pat Dryer usually make the majority of the quilts we send,” informed Macella, “and they produce many beautiful and useful lap quilts.”
The Gold Star Mother’s Luncheon will also take place Oct. 13. That is a luncheon celebration to honor an area mother who has lost a son or daughter in the line of active combat. It is about enjoying food, fun and a good social time.
“We are also looking for more female veterans to ride on the DAVA float in the Veterans Parade this year,” said Macella. “Anyone interested or who knows of local female veterans can call me at (417) 569-8679.”
They took first place with their float at last year’s Veterans Parade.
Supporting our troops
DAVA member Evelyn “Granny” Painter, Pleasant Hope, heads up the Support the Troops program for Chapter 62. She had previously been involved with the Beams of Light program through the Bolivar DAV Chapter 66. She starting helping with the Support the Troops program in 2006 when her grandson was deployed to Iraq.
Support the Troops is all about supporting U.S. soldiers with commodities and goodies on a quarterly basis and especially around the holiday times. Chapter 62 DAVA collects nonperishable food items (e.g., canned and boxed foods), personal use items (e.g., toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, etc.) and miscellaneous items (puzzle and game books, DVDs and CDs and letters of encouragement). All the liquid items, powders, deodorants and such must be packaged in ziplock bags to help prevent leakage. For a complete listing of the items needed for these care packages, contact the DAV Chapter 62.
“People ask me, what are good items to donate,” said Painter, “and I just tell them that a good way to measure is by thinking what do you use when you’re getting ready in the mornings. Things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper and toothpaste are always useful. They love to play cards and work puzzle books or word searches. And most of all, they like snack foods like jerky, cookies and protein bars.”
Painter said shipping has almost doubled over the years since she first started putting together care packages for troops, even with the discounted rate. The more donations given to the program, the better to help with postage expenses, she said. And because the packages usually contain stamps, stationery and envelops, she is thrilled with the thank-you letters the chapter receives from grateful soldiers. (See the box for a couple of genuine samples.)
“Putting together care packages is one of my favorite ways to spend my time,” said Painter. “And I love it here at Chapter 62 with these people.”
And echoing the words of Macella, she adds, “ We’re just like one big happy family.”