October 7, 2010

For some, patriotism is a labor of love

VFW Ladies Auxiliary seeks the public's help in
 supporting local servicemen and women and their families.
Dottie Mattson, a longtime member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary,
 wears her patriotism on her sleeve — and fingernails.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Dottie Mattson is a patriot at heart, and has taken to wearing that sense of “Americanism” on her sleeve – right down to her fingernails.
“I've been a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for 22 years,” said Mattson, who was eligible to join based on her brother's service in Vietnam.
“I got taken in and overwhelmed by the programs they do for veterans and their families – that's what got me started,” said Mattson, who is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to stirring others to action.
For years the auxiliary has functioned as an extension of Derry's VFW Post 1617, which organizes several key events that directly support deployed troops, veterans and their families.
One is the POW/MIA 24-hour vigil held annually at MacGregor Park.
Another is the VFW's Adopt a Unit program, which started about six years ago.
“We try to make it local in that, so far, we've managed to adopt units of relatives of our members,” said Mattson. “This year we adopted my cousin's unit – I didn't even know my cousin's son was over there in Afghanistan, but we got to talking and she told me that he's missing so much from home. Can you believe all he wanted was can of tuna?”
Although the auxiliary normally sponsors one unit at a time, they are currently working to prepare care packages for four units, said Sarah Goodwin, who in addition to being a member of the auxiliary is also a member of Salem Exchange Club.
“Both groups focus on Americanism, so we combine our efforts to promote patriotism any way we can,” said Goodwin.
The Salem Exchange Club has contributed $500 toward the auxiliary's efforts, which will go toward purchasing personal care items and paying postage for the packages.
Mattson said another planned event the auxiliary is hoping will draw public support is a fundraising Murder/Mystery Pork Roast Dinner, scheduled for Oct. 16.
“It's a lot of fun – we're just a bunch of immature, uneducated actors who will be try to get the audience involved in figuring out who the 'killer' is,” said Mattson.
In addition to care packages sent routinely, Goodwin said they are also hustling to prepare a shipment of replacement care packages for one of the units.
“About three weeks ago we sent some packages to a unit – we bought them all kinds of hygiene products – and they reached Afghanistan but were blown up by an IED, so we're trying to rush out another shipment to replace them,” said Goodwin.
The Oct. 16 fundraising dinner – with all the trimmings – will be held at VFW Post 1617 on Railroad Avenue in Derry. It's open to the public and starts at 5 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. The show at 7 p.m. Tickets for dinner and the show are $15.
Anyone interested in donating money or care package items should contact the VFW Post at 432-7902.

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