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Solon Legion fundraiser feeds foundation

SOLON– It’s a gift that keeps giving.
Over the last two years, Solon American Legion Stinocher Post 460’s annual golf outing raised $11,500 for the Iowa American Legion Foundation.
The local Legion presented a $6,000 check to the foundation during a Sunday, Sept. 27, ceremony in Solon, and the foundation used the occasion to hand out awards to District 1 recipients, including the Solon Firefighters Association.
“We are a very unique and very blessed community,” Solon Tri-Township Fire Department Chief Bob Siddell said in accepting the $2,500 check. “This is just one of the reasons why we do what we do.”
Siddell, a 36-year veteran of the department, explained the association is in the process of building a new fire station, having run out of space at its existing facility. The call volume for the department has continued to increase, he said, with firefighters responding almost twice a day.
The Solon department covers 110 square miles, the largest geographic service area in Johnson County, and as the community increases in population, he said, the needs for the department are expanding.
“We need more equipment and we just don’t have the room,” he said, noting the current station was built in 1959 with an addition in 1991.
The association started fundraising two years ago, but has not collected enough money, he acknowledged.
“We know it’s a lot of money,” Siddell admitted, but it’s needed for the community.
“It will be here for the community for a long, long time,” he concluded.
The fire association’s check was one of several presented by the foundation during the special event.
The Iowa American Legion Foundation has awarded grants for 42 years, but this was the first time Solon’s post hosted, explained President David Rehbein.
The Iowa American Legion Foundation was formed in 1978 to help support the people and the organizations that were out doing things the kinds of things the Legion believed in– community service, youth programs, veterans rehabilitation and Americanism, he said.
Rehbein, a former National Legion Commander, said the foundation has awarded over $2 million cumulatively in grants, with over $100,000 given across the state in the current year.
In 2020, he said, the foundation funded about 35 scholarships for veterans and veterans’ families going to community colleges and small universities.
“It really makes you feel good you helped a veteran get started on a career path that’s really going to give back to one of our communities,” he observed.
Funds are generated by the foundation’s investments and honorees are selected annually at a meeting of nine district directors.
Solon’s Larry Swann is in his third term as a director for District 1, and helped hand out checks at the Legion ceremony.
Other recipients included ARC of Southeast Iowa, which received $2,000 to go toward the purchase of a bus.
ARC of Southeast Iowa provides services and support to individuals with disabilities, primarily those with developmental disabilities, and their families. The accessible bus will support day programs and summer camps that currently rely on staff transporting clients, including those from Solon, in individual vehicles.
The foundation also donated $1,250 to HERO Healing at English River Outfitters of rural Washington (IA).
English River Outfitters is a non-profit organization fostering a healthy readjustment back to civilian life for veterans through positive outdoor experiences. Veterans with physical disabilities are able to participate using all-terrain wheelchairs to fish, hunt and hike in the woodlands surrounding the facility.
The contribution will be used to help cover the cost of transportation and licenses for more out-of-state hunters.
Southeast Community College, headquartered in West Burlington, received $2,000 to help fund scholarships specifically for veterans.
Swann said over his 12 years as a district director, he had made a point of advocating for regional applicants to the foundation.
Swann, with the help of Andrew Kramer, Mike Swann, Mike Molitor, Dennis Kingery, Henry Rios and Jim Leland, developed and implemented the idea for a golf outing to support not only the foundation, but also the Solon Legion.
The second annual tournament was held Monday, June 15, at Saddleback Golf Course with 100 participants on 25 teams, Rios said.
“We had perfect weather,” he noted.
The 18-hole, four-man best-shot scramble raised $10,500 after expenses, he said, and while $6,000 was allocated for the Legion foundation, the committee members were also able to set aside money for local use.
During the ceremony, Rios introduced the fundraising committee members and announced the local contributions.
Stinocher Post 460 Commander Brad Storck was presented a check for $1,000 to support ongoing operations.
Storck expressed his gratitude, noting the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the number of people walking in the doors of the post. He said the money would be used in support of the members and the community.
Storck also accepted a $1,000 donation to help finance a planned visit to Solon by a traveling version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The traveling wall was scheduled to arrive in August, but has been postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, Storck reported.
The replica of the memorial near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is expected to be erected on Legion property near the Solon Veterans Memorial and the Johnson County Freedom Rock. The Solon Legion would accept responsibility for security, as the replica needs to be manned 24 hours a day.
Storck said he greatly appreciated the funding, which will be used to make the event even better.
Rios indicated additional contributions to local baseball and softball programs would be deferred for a year due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The date for next year’s tournament has already been set, Rios added, for Monday, June 14, 2021, at Saddleback Golf Course.
Rehbein thanked the Legion members for helping to bring new money into the American Legion Foundation of Iowa.
“This money will all be invested. No penny of that will be spent,” he explained. The foundation is restricted from spending its principal, using only the earnings off its investments to finance charitable giving.
“It will take a number of years, but we will eventually give away that $6,000 and still have the $6,000 there to earn more money,” he observed.