The VFW “Rainbow” Post 2681 is one of four veterans organizations that are finalists in the Home Depot Foundation’s monthly “Aprons in Action” contest. The organization that gets the most votes in a Facebook contest this month will receive a $25,000 Home Depot gift card to be used for renovations.
The post would renovate its kitchen if it wins against veterans organizations in Boston, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, member Chris Vail said. The improvements would allow the aging former roller rink to be more attractive as a venue for other agencies to rent out.
“And we can turn around and spend that money on veterans,” said Vail, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1952 to 1958. “’Cause everything we do is for veterans.”
But the post has even higher hopes. If it can win the November contest, it would square off next year against 10 other monthly winners for a $250,000 grand prize.
“That’s our biggest wish is to help some of the community, as well as the vets,” said Carl Ryan, Post 2681’s senior vice commander. “We’ve got some big plans for it.”
But, as of Thursday, the Marietta post was in last place among the four November finalists. The post is trying to encourage more people to vote at www.facebook.com/
“When I get home, I’m getting on the Internet and contacting all my Marine Corps friends to get the word out,” Vail said. “Any way we can get the word out, we’re doing it.”
Home Depot Foundation spokeswoman Catherine Woodling noted that the voting just started Tuesday, and people can still vote until the end of November.
Ryan points out that the other organizations are all homes for homeless veterans. He said Post 2681 not only assists homeless vets, but also works on helping vets get in contact with the Department of Veterans Affairs, helps them find jobs and provides other services.
“We do the same thing they do and a whole lot more,” Ryan said. “We don’t want to put anyone down, but we’re the best.”
Post 2681 was selected among this month’s finalists after a previous Home Depot project there earlier this year. Woodling said 175 people volunteered in August to perform $19,000 worth of work replacing ceiling tiles, upgrading restrooms, making lighting more energy-efficient and painting a large American flag mural on the parking lot wall.
“When they were done, they realized there was additional work they could do if they had more funding,” she said.
So, Home Depot figured the Aprons in Action program, which is benefitting veterans organizations between September and November, would be a good place to find more money for the post, Woodling said.
Post 2681 plans to take part in Friday’s Veterans Day parade, which starts at 11 a.m. at Roswell Street Baptist Church, Vail said. Along with other members, he plans to speak to local schools about what veterans have done.
While the local organization has 360 members, it works for all veterans, Vail said.
“We serve every veteran in town,” he said. “If they call on us, we will come help them.”
The projects have come after a setback for the post. In March, the building was burglarized, with $8,000 in cash and goods being taken from the site.
Ryan points to the show of support for the military and veterans that flowed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and says he would like to see that type of enthusiasm return.
“They need something to start the whole movement for the veterans,” he said. “If this (contest) will help start it, I’m all in favor of it.”