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AMVETS, VFW help brighten seniors' holiday

Glen Maurer helps Mariah Heise and Andrea Wagemann unpack boxes of canned vegetables and soups Saturday at the West Fargo High Rise where bags of food were put together for distribution to the residents courtesy of the AMVETS Post 8 and VFW Post 7564. Dave Wallis/The Pioneer

Members of West Fargo AMVETS Post No. 8 and West Fargo VFW Post 7564, assisted by family members, gathered in the dining room of the West Fargo High Rise Saturday, Dec. 19, to fill holiday gift baskets with food that they distributed to residents of the High Rise units.

A total of 96 bags packed with a variety of canned goods, a jar of peanut butter and jelly, a loaf of bread and sandwich meat, were distributed throughout the complex and to residents of the adjacent Serenity Apartments, during the Saturday drive that has been an annual occurrence for at least the last 20 years.

AMVETS member Glen Maurer served as chairman for the project, ordering all the food through the West Fargo Sunmart with the AMVETS and VFW sharing the cost of the $1775 tab.

There were plenty of AMVETS and VFW post members on hand to assist with the packing process, including Maurer and his wife, Jean, Al and Shirley White, Vigo and Jan Pedersen, Pat and Michelle Wagenmann, Janet Quinn, Harvey and Rosemary Heise, Chris and Monica Heise, Robb Peterson and his wife, and Sydney Paler, the daughter of Mark Paler, who is presently serving in Iraq. Children and grandchildren of some of the members also pitched in to help.

Each year a list of residents selected to receive the gift baskets is compiled by High Rise staff and forwarded to organizers. The seniors are then notified of the event and of the day the deliveries will be made.

Maurer said the two veterans groups enjoy being a part of this annual holiday endeavor. "We always do it the Saturday before Christmas, so we can help spread a little holiday cheer. We started out years ago by delivering a small turkey and a bag of potatoes, but then seniors asked 'what are we going to do with a ten pound turkey?' So we worked up another plan, with the bags containing smaller serving items and ones that we can either leave at the door or with a neighbor next door if nobody is home."

Maurer said it really is all about the giving. "These people truly appreciate it. One man sat there in his little apartment, with his cot, one chair, and coffee table and said, 'I am so glad to see you guys. I don't have one speck of food in the house. He was so elated to get the basket. It just makes you feel so good."

This year, the environmentally sound 'little green bags' were used to pack the groceries in.

Not only can they be reused, but each time they are, they will also more than likely serve as a wonderful reminder of the gracious goodwill generated during the 2009 holiday season, thanks to the kindness of members of the West Fargo AMVETS and VFW Posts.