GUILFORD, CT — In April, Patch reported the American Legion Post 48 had raised $1,250 from its members by asking them to donate a portion of their government stimulus check to help out their community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Post financial officer Fred Brisbois told Patch at the time that the post had chosen to donate money to organizations in its community instead of showing up in person because "most of the membership is in the COVID-19 high-risk category due to age and underlying medical conditions."
And, as American Legion members are wont to do, they kept making donations.
On Thursday, Brisbois said the fund has grown to a sizable $4,525, and some of its proceeds had already been distributed.
He said a total of $4,025 had been divided and donated to:
Guilford Food Bank
Guilford Community Fund
Guilford Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund
Guilford Community Foundation Carl Balestracci Humanitarian Fund
Guilford Community Foundation Interfaith Community Volunteer Endowment (Meals on Wheels)
Because the fund grew larger than expected, Brisbois said the post decided to set aside money to aid area veterans in financial distress.
"Several members had earmarked money to go to distressed veterans," he said. "When we polled the members, we didn't have anyone in dire straits."
Brisbois said he also called social services to help identify a veteran in need, but no one in need of help arose.
Instead of writing a check then and there, the organization set up a bank account with $500 of the raised money to create a permanent fund for veterans in distress.
"Any vet that is a member of the post, or a resident of Guilford having financial distress, can apply for that grant," he said. "I worked with people at social services and they help design a form for the application, now available on town website."
Brisbois said the organization intends to hand out small grants, potentially around $200, to veterans struggling to pay bills or afford necessities. And, it's still taking donations to help the fund grow.
Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Fred Brisbois, American Legion Post 48, 223 Flat Meadow Road, Guilford, CT 06437. Checks should be made out to American Legion Post 48.
As for the response Brisbois received through the fundraising campaign, he said, "It was just heartwarming."