Thursday, April 09, 2020
Pandemic Not Slowing Down Legion Family Efforts in NY
Apr 09, 2020
Truckers traveling through the intersection of NY 177 and NY 12 on April 1 were given a pleasant surprise: a free lunch, courtesy of the American Legion Family from Post 162 in Lowville, N.Y. Free grilled hot dogs and hamburgers were handed out to a group of the U.S. workforce putting in hour after hour moving critical supplies across state boundaries as much of the nation has been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The post set up a grill and tent along the intersection, along with signs saying “Truckers Stop Here” and “Thank You Truckers Free Food.” At the stop, truck drivers were given hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and a drink before heading back out on the road – all while the volunteers followed social distancing guidelines.
Post 162 Commander Lee Hinkleman said the idea for the lunch stop came about when a few members of the post’s American Legion Auxiliary unit referred to truckers as “’the silent heroes.’ You really don’t see those guys. They’re behind the Walmart, behind the grocery store, doing their thing and just going about their business.
“Here in New York they’ve actually shut down a lot of the rest stops where truckers in the past could take a rest and (eat) something they picked up somewhere. So the accessibility they used to have they simply don’t have now.”
Post 162’s entire American Legion Family got behind the project, which is how Hinkleman said every project is approached by the post.
“The response (from 162’s Legion Family) – we had too many volunteers,” Hinkleman said. “I’ve been actually turning volunteers down.”
The recipients of the food “were ecstatic,” Hinkleman said. “They were saying the same thing: That people really don’t know that they’re there, still working behind the scenes, taking care of us, delivering the supplies. The response has just been phenomenal.”
West Virginia trucker Eric Robohm was hauling cleaning chemicals for food companies and pulled into the stop for lunch on April 1. “I think it’s very good for morale, it’s very nice to know that people are behind you, and that you have support for what you’re doing,” Robohm told WWNY 7News. “It’s just a kind gesture. It’s very appreciated.”
Members of the community have donated to the cause, as have those well outside of Lowville. “We actually had a VFW Auxiliary an hour away from us send us a check for $1,000,” Hinkleman said. “I was like ‘wow.’”
On April 7 the post’s Legion Family again set up at the same location, this time providing lunches for both truckers and any law enforcement traveling the route. “The state troopers were thrilled,” Hinkleman said.
Hinkleman believes between 150-200 hamburgers and hot dogs have been given out so far. Another effort is planned for next week for employees at Walmart and Tops Friendly Market in Lowville. The post again will pay for all the food.
“It’s just something we want to do,” Hinkleman said. “We want to be able to give back.”
Here Comes Peter Cottontail
Despite the nation’s focus on the coronavirus, American Legion posts in New York and Nebraska haven’t forgotten what this Sunday is. In Nebraska, American Legion Post 27 in Beatrice is offering a drive-thru Easter egg hunt on Saturday for children ages 9 and under. Families will drive through the parking lot of the Veterans Club, where Easter bunnies will hand out treats.
And in Sherrill, N.Y., American Legion Post 230 will drive the Easter Bunny around the city on Saturday. Local residents can track the Easter Bunny’s route on the city of Sherrill website at www.sherrillny.org. The route will update regularly and have a slight delay.