For more than a decade, members of American Legion Post 38 in Haddonfield, N.J., have been delivering poinsettias to its elderly, shut-in members and Blue Star families during the holiday season.
“I think it’s the best thing we do,” said Jon Batchelor, a Post 38 member. “It’s a hands-on type of involvement with the veterans … you’re not out of the loop, you’re being thought about, and this is what we do for you. And we’re glad to do it.”
Batchelor and other post members, including Post Adjutant Sam Romanelli, helped deliver 24 poinsettias on Dec. 16. Romanelli shared her reason why the post has done this for so long.
“If I were a shut-in, just the connection with my post. The spirit of the season. Sometimes it’s just about you know someone with a friendly face stopping by. Relationship … these are members that were part of this post … many were very active when they were younger and now it’s time for us to give to them.”
A poinsettia was delivered to 99-year-old Loretta Aydelotte, a member of Post 38 who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She was very appreciative of the plant and expressed her thanks through words and hugs to the Legionnaires. “Thank you so much. You don’t have to do this. It’s beautiful isn’t it?,” she said.
It’s that appreciation that is felt by all, said Batchelor who added that the delivering of the poinsettias is similar to a Buddy Check.
“I think it tells the veteran that they are not alone,” he said. “That we’re thinking about them and acknowledging that by giving them a plant. I think that is probably as close to the buddy system as we can get because we are in contact with them.”
Batchelor added that Post 38 members enjoy making the deliveries. “People like to do it. They like to go over there and get involved and see the vets and talk to them. This is, in my opinion, veterans helping veterans. Because they are totally appreciative of the plant. They are very, very appreciative. And it’s a constant reminder through the holidays about their son or daughter being in the military and away from home.”
A poinsettia was delivered to Alano and Krista Demurguiondo, whose son Brett Bergstrom is serving on active duty in the Coast Guard as a 3rd class petty officer. Krista also used to receive a poinsettia when Alano was deployed with the Coast Guard.
“We really appreciate how thoughtful The American Legion is, not just to our son and to my husband but to national servicemembers, in the service that they provide not just during the holidays but for the entire year,” said Krista, who shared that over the years the poinsettia delivery has been appreciative by all her kids “because they too sacrifice having their father away or their brother away, so it’s been thoughtful of The American Legion. I take a picture and send it to my family members and my son and thank him for his service and tell him how extremely proud we are of him.”
It’s that pride in service to country that Romanelli shares, remembers and makes the delivery of poinsettias to Blue Star families important.
“When I was on active duty, I remember when I came home from Germany my father had this great big sign on the house, ‘Welcome Home.’ It gives me a little bit of emotion,” she said through tears as her father passed away seven years ago. “That’s the pride that parents have with their family members in their service. How do you describe pride … it’s such a feeling that sometimes there’s not any words. Being in the military is a great thing. It’s service to the country.”
As a reminder, Batchelor reiterated that “this one of the best things we do. And it comes at the appropriate time of the year. They just enjoy the poinsettias, and they’re very appreciative. You can’t ask for any more than that.”
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.