By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Members of the Delano American Legion Family comprised of the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, and Legion Riders share a love of country and community.
The next big event at the Delano Legion Club is a Santa breakfast from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
Children and their parents will receive a free breakfast (French toast sticks, sausage, juice, milk, and coffee) and a free goodie bag. They will also have the opportunity to visit and take photos with Santa Claus.
Participants are asked to donate a food shelf item of cap and mittens.
The fourth-annual Santa breakfast, presented by the Delano American Legion Auxiliary, is co-sponsored by the Delano American Legion Family, Delano Knights of Columbus Council and Auxiliary 4653, Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, and Delano Jaycees.
The Delano American Legion Post 377, which began in 1920, is a popular organization.
“Our membership is around 300,” said Dale Vander Linden. “I’m a 40-year member.”
Vander Linden was in the military during the Korean War era. He was sent to Japan, but never had to go to Korea.
In Delano, the American Legion Auxiliary was also established in 1920. It is comprised of women who are immediate family members of an American Legion member, or a deceased veteran.
“I’ve been a member since I was 6 years old,” said Pam Hoshal, secretary of Delano’s Legion Auxiliary. “You meet a lot of nice people.”
The American Legion and Legion Auxiliary meet in separate rooms the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Delano Legion Club.
Sons of the American Legion
Another part of the Legion family is the Sons of the American Legion (SAL), which includes males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the US military and were eligible for American Legion membership.
Commander Brian Blowers was in Delano’s original charter, which began in 1997.
“I was never in the military, and I thought it would be a good idea to serve people in the Delano area,” Blowers said.
His father, Gerald Blowers, is a dual member of the American Legion and SAL.
SAL hosts an omelet breakfast fundraiser from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Legion the second Sunday of each month, October through May.
“Our meeting is right after the omelet breakfast,” Blowers said.
The group’s main goal is to help youth organizations in Delano.
“Last year, we had 121 members,” Blowers said. “I think we are the biggest, or one of the biggest, squadrons in the state.”
The fourth part of the Legion family is the Delano American Legion Riders, which typically meet the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Delano Legion Club.
Those eligible to join must be current members of the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, or Sons of the American Legion, and must own a motorcycle of at least 350cc engine displacement.
“I’ve been in it over five years,” said President Rudy Van Hemert, who also served as the 10th district Legion Riders director from 2007-09.
“There are over 1,200 chapters nationwide,” he said. “It’s growing on a daily basis.”
Van Hemert was in the US Army Reserve from 1974 to 1980.
He enjoys being in the Legion Riders because of its commitment to helping Gilette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Minneapolis Veterans Home, and various other charities.
“It’s a good program, and it’s a lot of volunteering,” Van Hemert said.
The Delano Legion Club is located at 200 Babcock Blvd. W. in Delano.
To learn more about the Delano American Legion Family, call the Delano Legion Club at (763) 972-2969, or click here.