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R.O.S.S. supports military families

Bringing the community together to show support for serving soldiers is the driving force behind the annual Remembering Our Serving Soldiers (R.O.S.S.) event which will mark its eighth year Saturday, March 5, at the West Fargo VFW, 308 Sheyenne St.

Actually the daylong happening is described as a "dream come true" by its founder Charlie Weible, who came up with the idea for the observance on Christmas day in 2003 while serving as commander at the West Fargo VFW Post 7564.

"We needed some recognition for the fallen soldiers and military support groups," Weible said. "I was helping my wife wipe dishes on Christmas morning and they were interviewing soldiers on the television. I said "I got it." My wife, said "what?" I said "R.O.S.S., remembering our serving soldiers, something we can do for the troops."

"That's how the event got started," Weible noted. "The first year it was a pancake feed. We didn't make a lot of money, probably 600 bucks, but we have come a long way since then. We put a lot of time in the fires to get it going. It was one of these things that we just kept plugging away at, something that you thought might never work out, but it did and grew into a really big thing."

So much so that last year's R.O.S.S. was one of the most successful ever, taking in over $13,000 for the cause, with a total of $45,000 raised through the years.

And that's a really good thing, given the fact that all the proceeds go to benefitting and supporting the families of local Guard and Reserve units, including the N.D. Army and Air National Guard and Navy Reserve.

Weible is hoping that this year's event holds up to the same great mark, and topples last year's figures.

The daylong observance will be filled with a variety of happenings including food and camaraderie, a silent auction and memorial program, along with a bevy of other festivities that will all get underway at 11 a.m. with a barbecue and chips luncheon served until 1:30 p.m. The silent auction featuring a variety of donated items will be previewed in the downstairs area from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bingo will be played from 2 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m.; and drawings for meat raffles and other prizes will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Among the other larger prizes that will be raffled off are a laptop computer, outdoor barbecue grill and a Kuerig coffeemaker.

A highlight of the afternoon activity will be the Memorial Program that will be conducted at 4:45 p.m., by The Military Funeral Honors in recognition of all the fallen North Dakota military members. Members of the VFW will also utilize the time for a special recognition to the Patriot Guards as a way of paying tribute to their service contributions to all the military branches. West Fargo High School students will be singing the National Anthem.

Joann Czerwinski, a VFW member who is employed by the family assistance center at the North Dakota National Guard, said that the annual auction should also live up to expectations with "a whole variety of items that should include something for everyone."

On that note, Weible encourages everyone to take the opportunity to head on out to the VFW on Saturday to support the event and partake in the activity.

"A lot of work still goes into making the day a success, but members of the Guard really help us out," Weible said, "so it always turns out well. It really is rewarding when you see how much the event has grown and all the people who turn out to be a part of it. Personally, it makes me feel really proud because I can actually say it has my name on it."

Weible said a large turnout is also expected for the evening Steak Fry which will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. featuring a steak with fried onion and mushroom toppings, a baked potato, baked beans and garlic bread, at a cost of $10 with tickets available in advance and at the door.

The evening will conclude with music provided by Fat Daddy beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The event is open to those 21 years of age and older.