MOAA chapter members are making an impact at the local level by starting and running community service projects. Community service projects increase participation within a chapter, give potential members a reason to join, and help spread the word about the good work being done by MOAA and MOAA chapter members.
If your chapter is looking for a rallying point-and a way to make an impact at the local level-consider starting a community service project. The following describes 10 innovative community service projects your chapter can start.
1. Hold a flag retirement ceremony. Members of the Clearwater (Fla.) Chapter host an annual flag retirement ceremony. The event performs a valuable service, is easy-to-do, and promotes patriotism in the local community.
2. Start a scholarship program. The New Hampshire Chapter hosts an annual clambake to raise money for their chapter-sponsored scholarship fund. Other chapters, such as the Heart of Texas Chapter, have hosted golf tournaments and raised the money needed to establish a perpetual scholarship through national MOAA's scholarship fund. Both scholarship programs help local students and give potential members a reason to join, since many members' children or grandchildren are named as scholarship recipients.
3. Stuff the Bus. The Kingdom of the Sun Chapter in Ocala, Fla., works with the county school district to help disadvantaged children get school supplies and clothing before the start of the new school year. Each weekend during July and August, chapter members park a school bus in front of Wal-mart. Members then distribute flyers that list needed items, and shoppers are asked to "stuff the bus" with their purchases, which later are distributed to needy schoolchildren.
4. Adopt-a-Kid/Adopt-a-Vet. Members of the Lancaster (Pa.) chapter are teaching area schoolchildren about the military and what it means to be a veteran through their Adopt-a-Kid/Adopt-a-Vet program. Chapter members share their experiences with students by showing them pictures, medals, and other memorabilia. The program helps kids better understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by our nation's veterans.
5. Start a program that assists servicemembers and their families. Members of the Tampa (Fla.) Chapter founded Operation Helping Hand in May 2004 to help the families of wounded active duty patients who are being treated at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa. Operation Helping Hand provides families with emotional support, monetary assistance, and in-kind donations for things such as free rental cars and groceries. Special requests from active duty patients or their families also are considered and granted in most cases. The program enjoys a broad base of community support and has received much publicity. The Tampa Chapter received a Newman's Own Award for Operation Helping Hand in 2005 and again in 2006.
6. Adopt a unit or a ship. In New Jersey, the134-members of the Jersey Cape Chapter have adopted the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy. The chapter decided to adopt the Monomoy after its commanding officer, chapter member Lt. Adam Chamie, USCG, deployed to the Persian Gulf. Chapter members contribute to the Monomoy fund, and the money is used to buy movies, magazine subscriptions, candy, snacks, board games, homemade cookies, and holiday decorations and supplies, which are shipped to the crew every month.
7. Start a Paint-and-Hammer Gang. Members of the Pikes Peak (Colo.) Chapter started a Paint and Hammer Gang, which builds wheelchair ramps and does repair work for needy seniors and low-income homeowners in the area.
8. Support an ROTC or Junior ROTC unit. Many of MOAA's 415 chapters support a college ROTC unit or a high school Junior ROTC unit. Chapter members present MOAA medals to outstanding cadets each year. (These medals are provided free to chapters that request them. For more information, call MOAA's Member Service Center at 1-800-234-6622.) Other chapters award college scholarships to cadets or contribute money for equipment and competitions.
9. Help homeless veterans. The San Diego Chapter and the Sunflower (Kans.) Chapter both participate in Stand Downs that help homeless veterans by providing them with food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, and VA and Social Security benefits counseling. Homeless veterans also receive referrals for housing, employment, and substance abuse treatment.
10. Support Guard and Reserve members. Members of the Savannah (Ga.) Area Military Officers Association help the local Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) office by briefing employers and Guard and Reserve members about their legal rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which prohibits discrimination against persons because of their service in the armed forces. Chapter members also encourage employers to sign an ESGR Statement of Support to demonstrate their commitment to support employees who serve in the Guard or Reserve.
Several MOAA chapters and councils have established perpetual, named scholarships through the MOAA Scholarship Fund. Your chapter can, too!
There are two options: a Designated Scholarship or an American Patriot Designated Grant. Both are permanent and provide undergraduate educational assistance to deserving children from uniformed services families — active duty, Guard, or Reserve — both officer and enlisted. As with every donation to MOAA's scholarship fund, 100 percent of the money your chapter or council donates goes to students. Not one cent is used for administrative or overhead expenses.
Designated Scholarships and American Patriot Designated Grants generally are named after the funding chapter or council. They also can honor a prominent member of your chapter or council. In addition to the MOAA Scholarship Fund’s selection criteria, most chapters and councils prefer their student live or attend school in the geographic area of their chapter or council so the scholarship recipient’s family can attend a chapter or council meeting/luncheon. Scholarships are a great tool for recruiting new members, as well.
You can establish a Designated Scholarship with a $25,000 donation. Many chapters and councils choose the extended payment plan option and raise $5,000 each year for five years. Each student selected to receive a Designated Scholarship will get both a $500 grant and an interest-free loan. For the 2018-19 academic year, each student received a $500 grant and a $6,500 interest-free loan in the name of the chapter or council.
You can establish an American Patriot Designated Grant with a $50,000 donation. Many chapters and councils choose the extended payment plan option and raise $10,000 each year for five years. These grants are for children of uniformed services personnel who died in active service or children who have a parent receiving T-SGLI. For the 2018-19 academic year, each student received a $5,000 grant.
Establishing a scholarship through national MOAA has several advantages. First, both types of scholarships are held in perpetuity, and all donations are tax-deductible, which alleviates the burden of your chapter having to set up its own 501(c)(3) and continue to hold fundraising events. Second, MOAA pays for all of the overhead, so 100 percent of your donation goes to create grants and interest-free loans. As students repay their loans, these funds are used again to create new loans, so your contributions are used to maximum advantage. With the MOAA Scholarship Fund administering the application, selection, and payout process, your members are ensured impartiality and fairness, and your board members can spend their time cultivating new members and pursuing chapter-specific issues.
For more information on how your chapter or council can establish a permanent, named scholarship, contact our Development Office at 1-800-234-6622 ext. 169 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2005, the Honor Fight program has brought World War II veterans from across the country to Washington, D.C., for a day-long visit to the World War II and other memorials. Many of these veterans have no other way to see “their” memorial. Time is of the essence as more than 1,000 World War II veterans die each day. Because of voluntary contributions, veterans are able to travel aboard aircraft chartered by the Honor Flight program free of charge, escorted by volunteer “guardians” from the city where the aircraft departs.
While in D.C., these veterans travel aboard buses to see the World War II Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. So far, nearly 18,000 World War II veterans have traveled to D.C. on chartered Honor Flights from 70 hubs in 30 states. The Honor Flight program has a need for volunteers at various airports in the D.C. area to greet the World War II veterans or travel with them. Honor Flight also is seeking donations for more flights and names of World War II veterans who would like to go on one of the flights.
MOAA is encouraging members to donate or help out if possible. If you are interested in being a part of this great effort, you can contact the Honor Flight Network (HFN) at (877) FLY-VETS (359-8387), or view the official national Web site for Honor Flight Network at www.honorflight.org. Information concerning local HFN hubs can be found by at the “Programs” page. Donations can be made at the site by clicking on the donations link on the home page.
Each cemetery could benefit from a support committee, especially if these committees could be formed in advance of the first burial. They play an instrumental part in the success of the dedication ceremony and generally are responsible for planning annual programs at each cemetery, such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They can also assist in recruiting volunteers to work at the public information center, serving on honor details, etc.
The following locations are looking for help with their committees:
South Florida VA National Cemetery, Lake Worth:
Director - Kurt Rotar - Dedication scheduled: March 9, 2008
Phone number: (561) 649-6489
Sarasota VA National Cemetery:
Director - Mrs. Sandra Beckley
Phone number: (877) 861-9840
Birmingham Area National Cemetery: Director - Ms.Quincy Whitehead
Phone number: (205) 665-9039
Temporary office: 731 Middle Street, Montevallo, AL (effective Jan 22)
Jacksonville, FL Area National Cemetery:
Director - Ms. Arleen Vicenty
Ft Jackson/Columbia Area National Cemetery:
Director - Gene Linxwiler
Bakersfield Area National Cemetery:
Director - Wesley Jones
Philadelphia Area National Cemetery:
Director - TBD
*Please contact the new directors to find out more on how you can help support our National Shrines. Phone numbers for the other directors will be provided as they move to their locations and become available.