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Our Foundation Never Faltered

September 20, 2017 ~The American Legion, Department of Florida and Florida Posts have been hard at work, delivering goods and lending a helping hand to their communities and the hardest hit areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Commander Steve Shuga has worked with Disaster Preparedness Chair, Bill Hoppner and Vice Commanders to assess, organize and implement hurricane relief across the state.

This past week, our comrades from The American Legion, Department of Indiana sent a semi packed with bottled water, non-perishables and many needed items, along with a check for $16,057 for additional relief efforts. The semi arrived Thursday, September 14, and the Department of Florida staff and volunteers quickly unloaded and sorted goods for immediate distribution. Before the day’s end, trucks and trailers were loaded and headed to several areas of need.

Commander Steve Shuga, Adjutant Mike McDaniel, Bill Hoppner, Chaplain Barry Roberts, and others have traveled from Jacksonville Beaches to Lake City, Orlando, Palm Bay, Arcadia, Lehigh Acres, Bonita Springs, Homestead, Okeechobee, Key Largo and Marathon delivering goods to those in need.

Florida Posts reached out to other states with requests for aid, and have been blessed with an abundance of provisions. Department Headquarters has served as an emergency assistance command center and has coordinated external support from Indiana, South Dakota, Maine, Delaware, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Texas and Virginia. Responses from these states and others have been flooding in, with provisions being directed to Posts serving as distribution centers. Supplies are being dispersed with aid from trucking companies, air support, and volunteers shuffling their personal trucks and trailers around the state.

Our comrades from Damariscotta, Maine Post 42 have also sent a fully loaded 53’ semi to Florida. Commander Shuga, Bill Hoppner, Barry Roberts, and Detachment Commander Bernie Wildrick joined the semi, with their own trucks and trailers loaded, in a convoy destined for Marathon Key Post 154 Wednesday, September 20. Supplies include over 900 meals, water, bug spray, yard tools, tarps, gloves and much more. As many of you know, the Florida Keys were one of the most devastated areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Access to the Keys, has just been made available, and the team is on the way.

The entire Legion Family and volunteers, across the country, have spent countless hours gathering and dispersing supplies. Thousands have been helped and it is our hopes to help thousands more.

From our Department Commander, Steve Shuga, “Thank you to our American Legion family, our veteran organizations, our local, state, and federal government, police, fire, first responders, hospital staffs, power companies, cable companies, our military forces, the vast amount of hurricane relief agencies, private companies and organizations that provided aid and relief from the beginning and continue to support those still in need. We pray that your all protected and remain safe as you continue your work helping Florida return to normality.”

Relief efforts continue, as our foundation never faltered, relying on the four pillars of The American Legion: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism and Children & Youth. We thank all who have participated, we are making a difference.


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