Weekly dinners keep America Legion afloat amid pandemic

in People

Vietnam veteran and Turlock resident John Haggstrom has been cooking dinners in the American Legion Hall’s kitchen for 50 years, but none have been more important to the organization than those he’s hosting these days to raise funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Turlock’s American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 is a haven for local veterans and community members alike, serving as a gathering place for not only those who have fought in our nation’s wars, but also as a space where birthday parties are held, weddings are celebrated and organizations can convene. Haggstrom has been an American Legion member for 54 years, he said, and the state shutdown due to COVID-19 has put the group’s mission of “continuing to serve America” at risk.

Through community outreach, veteran support and monetary donations, the American Legion makes it a point to give back to the communities they’ve already served in uniform. Post 88 previously made a majority of its funds through their beer booth, or “fun booth,” as Haggstrom refers to it, at the Stanislaus County Fair. One year the organization earned just over $100,000 in beer sales alone, but now that annual revenue is gone with the fair’s cancellation.

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