2017-2018 National Youth Activities Ambassador
Autumn Ideas for Halloween, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving
Autumn is here! Leaves are falling; there is a cool crispness in the air, and we are beginning to think about the upcoming holiday season. Halloween, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are all within the next month. It’s the time of year we think about the blessings in our life and what we are thankful for.
I am truly thankful for our organization and the diversity of members that we have. We come from different racial, social and economic backgrounds, yet we are all united by our love of our country and our veterans.
I am in awe of the creativity that is shown across the country for our Youth Activities Program and I love that many of these ideas are being shared on Facebook. If you do not have a Youth Activities Facebook page for your Department, I encourage you to ask your Department’s Youth Activities Chairmen to start one so all the local Auxiliary Youth Activities Chairmen can share ideas and stay in touch online. If you don’t know how to set up a group or page on Facebook, visit the National website for step-by-step instructions (it only takes about 15 minutes to set one up!)
Halloween is less than a week away and there are so many ways to engage our youth. Many Posts and Auxiliaries host “Trunk or Treats” in the Post parking lot, or participate with other organizations in town to host parties and other activities for youth. An event that is always popular with youth is pumpkin or gourd painting/decorating parties. Check out the videos on Facebook at the links below for decorating how-to. You can also visit the VFW Auxiliary’s Pinterest page for more pumpkin decorating ideas.
Veterans Day is two weeks away! Does your Post and Auxiliary have a speaking engagement set up at a local school? If you answered “no,” it’s not too late to contact them! Pick up the phone or send an email and ask if a veteran can speak to youth about what it means to be a United States veteran. If an arrangement can’t be made at a school, contact a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, JROTC or a faith-based youth group and ask them if a veteran can speak at their meeting.
Veterans Day is an excellent time to teach youth about the difference between Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Many adults don’t know the difference; if we educate youth, they can pass the knowledge on.
- Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May): Armed Forces Day is a day to honor Americans currently serving in the five branches of the U.S. military as well as the National Guard and Reserve units.
- Memorial Day (last Monday in May): Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who died while serving in America’s Armed Forces.
- Veterans Day (November 11): Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans.
Autumn is also the time of year that our sixth sense of giving kicks into high gear. There are many people in our communities who are less fortunate, and there are numerous ways to involve youth in helping those in need, including:
- Collecting food, toiletries, coats, etc.
- Assembling and delivering food baskets.
- Raking leaves, cleaning gutters, etc.
- Writing thank-you notes and notes of encouragement.
- Helping at a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Post.
Plan ahead and include youth in your plans! There are many parents and families looking for things that they can do to help the less fortunate in their communities. The list of things you can do is endless. An act that may seem small to one person may be huge to another!
Remember to provide information on all our programs to the children and their parents (or whoever is supervising them). Our communities need to understand who the VFW and VFW Auxiliary are and all that we do; we don’t want to be the best-kept secret in town!
As we Catch the Dream for Our Veterans, we must remember that the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow; the leaders of our country, our communities and our own organization. We can enrich their lives while teaching them about our veterans and the sacrifices they made in order to maintain the freedoms we enjoy.