By Mike Pound
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The boxes sit on tables in the large back room of the American Legion Post 13 building at Fourth Street and Schifferdecker Avenue.
The tables run along the east and west walls of the room and down its center. Since the boxes arrived at the hall on June 26, volunteers with the American Legion have been carefully conducting an inventory of their contents. Howard Spiva is the commander of Post 13. He said he and other Legion volunteers know exactly what is in each box and how many of a particular item each box contains. When I suggested that Post 13 must have a few former supply clerks as members, Howard just laughed.
“If someone needs something, we want to be able to go to it right away,” Howard said.
Howard said the boxes contain food items, bottled water, juices, clothing, toiletries, cooking utensils, blankets and medical supplies, and they all came from an unexpected source.
“Some brave Legionnaires drove a truck as long as this room filled with supplies all the way from New York to help out our tornado victims,” Howard said.
Howard, and Legion post members Carl Bible and Kenny LaNear showed me a large banner from American Legion Post 1080 from Carmel, N.Y., with signed messages of support from its members.
I asked Howard if he knew anybody from Carmel. He said he didn’t. I asked Howard if he or anybody from Post 13 had any connection with Post 1080 in Carmel. He said he knew of none. So naturally, I wondered why an American Legion post in Carmel, N.Y., would gather up a truckload of supplies for victims of the May 22 tornado.
The answer, Howard said, is simple. The military veterans with Post 1080 of Carmel are much like the military veterans with Post 13 of Joplin. They look out for their fellow vets.
“That’s why they did this,” Howard said. “They want to make sure these supplies go to veterans who were victims of the tornado and need some help.”
Now that the donated supplies have been inventoried, the folks at Post 13 want to start giving them out to folks who need them. Howard said the supplies will be donated to four groups in the following order:
• 1: Legionnaires who lost their homes or belongings in the storm.
• 2: Military service people who lost their homes or possessions.
• 3: Members of the Joplin Association for the Blind.
• 4: Anyone who lost a home or possessions in the storm.
Howard said the Joplin American Legion post was torn between helping area veterans, as the Carmel American Legion members intended, and helping as many people as possible.
“We want to help our veterans first, but we also want to make sure that we give away all of the donated supplies,” Howard said.
He said he was talking to me in hopes of getting the word out to local veterans affected by the storm that help is available. Howard asked me to mention that Legion members and others who lost items to the storm may call any of the following three phone numbers: 417-624-4961, 417-483-3099 or 417-781-8107.
The volunteers with Post 13 are worried that as time goes by, some people who suffered losses during the storm will fall through the cracks. The volunteers want to be there to help those people too.
“We figure in a month, some people are going to really need help,” Carl said.
And Post 13 figures to be there thanks to the big hearts of fellow American Legion members from Carmel, N.Y.
Veterans looking out for veterans.