Mayor donates $5K to American Legion

Doris Theiss, Auxiliary Unit 62 president, left, and Tammy Early, Auxiliary Unit 62 vice president, right, accept a check from Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat. (Photo courtesy Auxiliary Unit 62)

Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat donated more than $5,000 to the John J. Morris American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62 for its work with veterans.

The move was part of Carlat’s State of the City address.

“Supporting our veterans has always been near and dear to my heart,” Carlat said. “Over the past few months, it has been a privilege to showcase American Legion Auxiliary Unit 62, as my State of the City Charity of Choice.

“The auxiliary has created a noble legacy of service. I am honored to present this donation as they continue their efforts to improve the lives of our veterans and their families.”

The nationally honored Auxiliary Unit 62 raises funds through donations, membership dues and American Legion Post events. The unit uses the funds to give back to the community.

Unit 62, with Veterans First LTD, launched a free art wellness program for women veterans. The program, Heal Her Art, during which participants finish a painting in one session. Heal Her Art has held 13 painting events at Phoenix VA Health Care.

“Participants forget about life’s struggles for the two hours they paint,” said Joan Sisco, a Marine Corps veteran and CEO of Veterans First Ltd.

Heal Her Art was funded through a donation from Chick-fil-A Arrowhead, an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation grant, and Unit 62’s fundraising efforts.

In another case, the unit and the legion family raised $13,000 for a local auxiliary member, volunteer and spouse of a veteran who, at age 53, suffered a life-changing medical event.

The unit also donated nearly $6,000 to “Smiles for Veterans,” an Arizona organization aligned with the American Legion Auxiliary. Smile for Veterans provides low-cost dental care to veterans in financial need.

Last year, the unit donated $5,000 to the Phoenix and Prescott VA veterans homes, Peoria’s Soldier’s Best Friend and Tucson’s Fisher House, the latter of which provides housing for families with a veteran seeking extended care at the Tucson VA.

Unit 62 supports statewide auxiliary efforts supporting veterans. Arizona’s 85 units have nearly 15,000 members, all of whom provide financial assistance at auxiliary-sponsored holiday gift shops in VA medical facilities in Prescott, Phoenix and Tucson. They support the local and National Veterans Creative Arts Festivals in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs Administration. The unit donated $1,500 to sight-impaired veterans as part of the Arizona Department president’s special project. The funds paid for tandem bicycles and other equipment to enhance veterans’ lives.

For children, Unit 62 promotes patriotism through the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program. The unit sponsors 20 junior high school girls who spend a week at UA where they learn about government and citizen responsibilities.

For more information, email Marge Christianson alaunit62az@gmail.com.