Palmer Roberts Unit 214 members combine efforts to help veterans

Feb. 18—The Palmer Roberts Unit 214 American Legion Auxiliary hosted its annual basket auction at its new home over the weekend.

Post coronavirus, Unit 214 has been leasing space with VFW Post 1500 at 38295 Pelton Road in Willoughby, where the auction took place Feb. 18 from noon to 5 p.m. Winners will be drawn late afternoon Feb. 19. Money raised will go to support auxiliary charities.

Snacks, drinks, a bake sale and a 50-50 raffle were also available for attendees.

Maribeth Hannon, secretary of Unit 214, said the auction has been going on for a long time and has grown over the years.

"It was something a lot of people looked forward to off of Erie Street at the old post," Hannon said. "It got interrupted because of (the coronavirus) and last year was the first year we've had the auction since (the coronavirus), and since we had to say goodbye to our post home. We had it at the Elks on Mentor Avenue. They were kind enough to provide a facility."

With having the auction at the new location on Pelton Road, there was excitement and anxiety in the air, Hannon said, as the annual event was like clockwork at the former location.

"You have to work out all of those details as far as how it's going to be set up and where things are going to go," she said. "The logistics have been figured out and we have detailed members who take the time to go over all those so we know the areas we're going to utilize for the bake sale. When we get ready to call the winners of the baskets, that area is going to be cleared. Last year, it went well, but we saw things that could be improved, so we're trying to make it better."

Some of the auxiliary's charitable acts for the community and the veterans in the area include bringing them things they need over the holidays, making donations to the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and its domiciliary, donating to homeless veterans and Volunteers of America Thrift in Willoughby.

"We had a party for them at the holidays and provided needed supplies — toiletries, pillows, blankets and all kinds of essentials they need," Hannon said. "We spent a lot of money, but the value was a lot. It's amazing how we can stretch the money. You hear, for Harvest for Hunger, you donate a quarter, but it'll buy four meals. It's like the same kind of concept. We do so much with a little bit."

Unit 214 is a separate, independent group of the American Legion Auxiliary, a chartered organization. Making up the auxiliary are committees, which work to organize activities.

"They're specific plans of action that are written from the state level down and they give you ideas of different activities you can do," Hannon said. "You report your volunteer hours, money spent and all of this starts at the unit level, goes up through district level, Ohio and all the way up to the national level. All these volunteer hours and money collectively reported give us bargaining power to fight for veterans' rights."

The five major committees making up the auxiliary include Americanism, Children and Youth, Community Service, Junior Activities and Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation.

"Those are the five that we have chairs for in our district level," Hannon said. "Of these, I'm chair for Buckeye Girls State and Public Relations. You just get the bug and you get involved, and you just fall in love with it. It's like family. We have a Lake County Council with the units in Lake County. We get together and share what our units are doing. A lot of the programs that our auxiliary is involved with affects folks on a heartwarming, life changing level."

Hannon expressed that Unit 214 is a special group to be associated with. Going forward, they hope to continue to help the community and its veterans, as well as further children and youth.

"All the women in our unit are special," Hannon said. "One of my friends, my mentor — her son passed away. He was a veteran and she got involved in the auxiliary because of him. She ended up being our district president for several years and she's very involved. At this time, we've got dedicated women. These women work so hard for this organization and they all bring something special to it. We all work together and that's what makes Unit 214 so great."