SIKESTON -- The Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Henry Meldrum Post No. 114 is celebrating 80 years of community service.
The American Legion Auxiliary was established in 1919 to support the American Legion which was also established that same year.
"We started ours in 1927," said Geniece Kinder, a 20-year member and past president of Sikeston's Auxiliary unit.
"They started out with about 27 members," Kinder said. "It's really grown. We probably have over 200 members in the Auxiliary unit. We probably have around 50 Junior Auxiliary members."
While the actual anniversary date is July 19, a party for Sikeston's American Legion and Auxiliary members will be June 23, according to Sandy Carter who is serving in her first year as the local Auxiliary president.
"It has been a wonderful experience," Carter said. "I think it's a great organization -- we do a lot of charitable work."
A lot of the Auxiliary's charitable work is focused on supporting veterans who are serving overseas as well as those that are right here, she said.
"We do a lot of benefits for the veterans and their families, help out at the nursing homes and veterans homes," Carter said.
"We assist veterans just about any way we can," Kinder agreed.
Carter said the Auxiliary especially does its best to make sure the post's remaining World War II veterans are cared for. "We really cherish them," she said.
Among events funded by the Auxiliary which honor veterans are the veteran luncheons for Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day, the Poppy program and the Gold Star and Blue Star banners.
The Auxiliary unit's charity is not limited to veteran-related events or organizations, however.
"YMCA is one of our big deals -- we just pledged $25,000 to them," Kinder said.
Other recipients of Auxiliary funding include the American Legion Auxiliary junior baseball teams, which get $5,000 each year, a nursing school program and nursing scholarships, Girl Scout programs, Girls State, high school scholarships, the Heritage House for senior citizens, and Missouri Delta Medical Center and its dialysis center.
The Auxiliary also helps out each year with the Cotton Carnival including providing prize money for the parade float contest.
"It all comes from our bingo money -- that's why we have our bingo Friday nights," Kinder said. "We have a lot of good members who really work at our bingo so we can have a really good, successful bingo."