Legion Center Offers Chile Financial Support to Troops | Local News

The golden fabric bands tied around trees and the magnetic versions that were then glued to vehicles were a ubiquitous sight in wartime America for decades.

The organization serving gallons of chili at the Center on Saturday has a name that is meant to remind Americans of their continued obligation to do more than display a symbol of their support for members of the military.

Beyond the yellow ribbon.

“Because it can’t end there,” said Stanley Stocker, who ran one of the chili stalls in the The American Legion Center. “We all have to donate a few dollars – and that’s all it takes is a few dollars, or come to events like this.”

The South Central Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Chilifest is one of two annual fundraisers that generate the vast majority of the organization’s revenue. For $ 10, people could try 11 bowls of chili made by various nonprofits or businesses competing to see which one was better.

“All were good,” said Anita Janda, one of the judges and commander of the Post 108 host. “There were no bad guys in the peloton.”

This seemed to be evidenced by the empty bowls in front of a pair of satisfied-looking Legion couples just after noon.

“Very good chili. Highly recommended, ”said Ken Jax of Apple Valley.

Ken Jax (left) and Alan Baer served together in the military in Germany in the 1960s. On Saturday, they and their wives supported the current troops and their families by polishing nearly three dozen bowls and half-bowls of Chile.

Jax made the trip with his wife, Sandy, who – rumored to have swallowed a bowl of each of the 11 recipes. The outing was suggested by Alan and Becky Baer of Madison Lake.

A good cause, a good meal and a good price made a good excuse for couples to get together. Ken and Alan served side-by-side in the military in the late 1960s, and their wives have known each other since they traveled together to see their men while stationed in Germany.

“We both got home pregnant,” Becky said. “… And our children were both born on the same day. “

For years, families have celebrated common birthdays together on April 18. It has faded since the kids became adults, but parents are still looking for reasons to come together, especially in places halfway between Apple Valley and Madison Lake.

The Madison Lake couple were vaguely aware of South Central Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, the Jaxs not at all, but Saturday was the occasion to find out more.

Lorraine Little, vice president of the organization, said people often confuse it with the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. While the local group refers veterans to this organization if they have suicidal thoughts, South Central Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has no connection and aims to help veterans, active duty military personnel and their families. with a wide variety of help, said Little Rural Mankato.

Due to its relatively small size, the organization prides itself on being nimble and creative.

“We’re definitely ready to help anyone who needs help if they’re affiliated with the military,” Little said.

“Not only are we providing financial aid, but we are also connecting to other resources,” added Angie Glassel of St. Peter.

If a deployed soldier’s spouse suddenly needs a new roof or other home repairs, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will put them in touch with a reputable, supportive contractor – “someone trustworthy who understands,” said Little.

“Shovel, yard work,” Glassel said.

Little: “Take the kids to school by bus. … Prescription shoes, dental.

Glassel: “Gas cards … Car repairs. “

“Most of it was right this year,” Little said. “… And sometimes it can be done in less than 24 hours. “

In 2020, assistance totaled $ 24,231 to veterans, military personnel and families in Blue Earth, Nicollet and LeSueur counties.

This year’s Chilifest was the first not to take place in Mankato, an initiative to get the food and message across to one of the other two counties. Janda said the fundraiser, which also includes a silent auction and darts tournament, was a good opportunity to show off the local American Legion to people who might not have visited otherwise.

Even with the end of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are still many serving their countries in need of the occasional helping hand for themselves and their families. This includes members of the Minnesota National Guard called up for a wide variety of duties ranging from medical relief at health facilities during a pandemic to providing backup to police during civil unrest.

“You have to change gears quickly enough to go from a nursing home to a riot,” Janda said, noting that members of the Guard also take time off from civilian jobs when called in. “The National Guard and the Reserves, they give twice because they end up giving up a job and have to serve.”

Stocker is not a veteran, but his father and grandfather were. So he’s happy to be working with Wally Blaschko to serve a Legion Breakfast for Veterans on Veterans Day, Chicken Wings at the weekly Legion Wing Night and, for the first time, a entry to the Chilifest.

“Wally found the recipe and we did some testing and changed a few things,” Stocker said. “(After three tries) we got it.”

The Jaxes and the Baers agreed. It was good chili and an opportunity to make a contribution to a worthy charity. And thanks to the Disabled American Veterans, who covered all veterans’ expenses, lunch only cost the quartet $ 20.

Considering they had consumed something on the order of 33 or half bowls of chili, they admitted there was a potential additional sacrifice to the cause as their lunch made its digestive journey.

“It’s too early to tell,” said Sandy Jax.

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