Heroes Deserve A Special Day
Veteran’s Day is celebrated on November 11 every year. Americans set aside this day to remember and honor our military veterans — heroes who bravely served our country in the United States Armed Forces. But many of our Pioneers strive to support our veterans not just on one day, but throughout the entire year.
For many years, the Pennsylvania “Fort Pitt” Pioneers have worked closely with the Sharing & Caring for Hospitalized Veterans association to support veterans in their community. One of the most eagerly-anticipated events — a riverboat cruise — sets sail on the “Three Rivers” around Pittsburgh each September.
This year, Pioneers began preparations for the riverboat excursion in July with a day spent on the links. A golf tournament, hosted by former Senator Jack Wagner, was held at a local country club to raise money to sponsor veterans on the boat rides. In addition to the money raised by the golfers, two well-stocked gift baskets were auctioned away. And, in August, a group of volunteers gathered to pack almost 400 gift bags with socks and other small items for the veterans to take home after their cruise.
In September, the Pioneers and veterans were ready to set sail. The riverboat excursions took place from September 5-8, 2018. Each day, the Gateway Clipper embarked from Station Square in downtown Pittsburgh and provided hundreds of veterans with a day of fun and entertainment touring the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers. This year, the Fort Pitt Pioneers raised enough money to sponsor four veterans on the cruises and several Pioneers were on board to help with activities and hand out gift bags.
“The hospitalized veterans truly appreciate and look forward to their day on the Gateway Clipper, complete with lunch, games, prizes and entertainment,” noted Pioneer Lynne Price, who helps organize the event every year. “This is our 33rd year partnering with the Sharing & Caring organization to support these veterans and their families.”
And, for the Fort Pitt Pioneers, the desire to support those who bravely served our country extends beyond the annual cruise. They also sponsor monthly bingo nights and provide cake for birthday celebrations at a local veterans’ residential care facility. Putting smiles on the veterans faces brings joy to the hearts of all the volunteers involved.
Our Pennsylvania Pioneers are not the only ones who strive to help veterans. See below for how chapters across the county reach out to honor our heroes.
In Illinois, the Life Member Pioneers also answered the call to support our veterans. Since 2011, this group of volunteers has designed thank-you cards and folded small U.S. flags to present to veterans throughout the state. Volunteers also pulled out the knitting needles to either knit or crochet cozy lap robes, branded with the label, "Handmade by the Life Member Pioneers." To date, over 3,000 cards and flags, and 1,800 lap robes, have been distributed to veterans across Illinois.
n Maryland, Pioneers donated an assortment of bedding and bath items to the Veterans Haven Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in Glen Gardner, New Jersey. Included in the haul were sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets and bath towels. The New Vision McCully Pioneers also penned 64 handwritten notes and thank you cards, which were delivered to the veterans at the home. The veterans truly appreciated the warmth of the sentiments along with the coziness of the bedding and blankets!
In San Diego, the De Anza Pioneers were on hand in September to welcome home a group of veterans after their honor flight trip to Washington, D.C. While in the nation’s capital, the veterans, some of who served in World War II and the Korean War, were privileged to tour many of the memorials which honored their service and sacrifice to this country. Upon their return home, the veterans were treated to a special homecoming and thank you celebration for their heroic service.