On the final day of ALA VGS 2016, we were asked, “Are you willing to invest what you’ve gained here?” Now is a great time to answer that question with action! 

This year marked the 70th session of ALA VGS, and we asked YOU to join us in celebrating that milestone by participating in our first ALA VGS Week of Service.  Together, we designated the week of November 6-13, which included both Election Day AND Veterans’ Day, as a time to give back to veterans and our communities. 

Many of you participated in our Week of Service by volunteering time and resources to organizations in need. You can see examples of that outreach on our social media channels, and below are suggestions for service throughout the year (including a specific need from the American Legion Auxiliary of Tennessee). 

How will you invest… in your school, your community, our nation, and our world? 

Supporting Veterans and Active Duty Troops

Donate or raise funds to support the American Legion Auxiliary Christmas parties held at veteran’s hospitals across Tennessee. There are Christmas parties at each of the four major VA hospitals in the state. The ALA Units in Memphis, Nashville, Murfreesboro and East Tennessee go to the hospital on a specific day in December and take gifts for each veteran, have food, and play games. This is in addition to their monthly visits to the hospitals. They need help with funding (especially for the gifts) for these parties.

We would love to see you get creative with ways to raise money for this ALA event! Have a bake sale, ask customers at a school concession stand to “round up” or donate their change, have a penny war between grades or classes at your school, rake leaves in exchange for a donation, or come up with an idea to raise money and support for the ALA!

You can send donations to the state ALA office:
American Legion Auxiliary
104 Point East Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
Please specify that the donation is for the Christmas party and if you have a specific hospital you would like to receive those funds. They are also happy to accept unrestricted donations.

Once the dates and times of the parties are set, we will send out that information. The sponsoring ALA units will be in need of volunteers to assist with the parties in December.

Please contact Melinda Hackney (ALA State Secretary) via email if you have questions.

If you are eligible, become a member or junior member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Go to www.alaforveterans.org for information on joining. You may also contact Julia Wells to join the ALA Unit in Bells that is so actively involved in Girls State. She will be glad to help you process your membership form. You may reach her via email.

Operation Gratitude has a variety of donation needs: www.operationgratitude.com

  • Collect Beanie Babies (Troops hand them out to local children while on patrol abroad.)
  • Have a collection drive for care packages to be sent to troops (see website for wish list of items)
  • Knit a hat or scarf to send to a soldier
  • Collect extra Halloween candy to be sent to troops
  • (Remember that you will be responsible for the shipping cost of sending these items.)

Help the USO send 1 Million messages of support to troops through their Campaign to Connect: www.uso.org/message/thanks-a-million

Write letters through Savannah’s Soldiers: savannahssoldiers.com/write-a-soldier/
(Start a letter writing campaign at your school, with teammates, among your youth group, etc. and challenge each member to write at least one letter.)

Call your local VA Hospital and see how you can volunteer (Nashville, Memphis, Murfreesboro, and East Tennessee)

Collect and donate items to Operation Stand Down Tennessee – Nashville & Clarksville: osdtn.org/wish-list/

Collect items to donate to Alpha Omega Veteran’s Services in Memphis: www.alphaomegaveterans.org/get-involved/kitchen-items

Take doughnuts/treats to your school’s ROTC office.

Contact your local American Legion Post or ALA unit and see if they collect items for the American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program that was created to provide “nonessentials,” or items that help wounded warriors’ recovery.

Have a bake sale at school, a football or basketball game, church etc., and use the proceeds to purchase calling cards to send to active military.

Sit down with a family member who is a veteran and ask them to share with you about their time of service and thank them for their service. You may want to record this to share with others.

Organize a time for a veteran from your community to talk to your school, club, or church group about their military service.

Place flags by veterans’ graves.

Election Day

  • Bring coffee/snacks/refreshments to poll workers.
  • Volunteer for a candidate on election day or leading up to the election.
  • Volunteer to drive senior citizens to their polling place.

Helping Your Community

Organize a book or board game drive for a nursing home or a local school or preschool.

Rake leaves or offer to do other household chores for elderly neighbors, family with small children, or a military family in your neighborhood.

Clean up a local park or school playground.

Go to a nursing home and play card or board games with residents.

Remember to recruit friends and family to join you! You can make this a fun social event and help others at the same time!

*American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State is not affiliated with any of the veteran’s organizations listed above, except the American Legion Auxiliary.

The ALA VGS Week of Service is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Girls Staters in your area and collaborate on giving back and paying it forward! Please post to the ALA VGS Facebook page and Instagram accounts and use #ALAVGSWeekofService to share your ideas and ask other ALA VGS alumnae, friends, and family to join your volunteer or fund-raising efforts during the week. We would love to see and hear about the way you invest what you gained at ALA VGS!