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Post Auxiliary plays Santa for veterans

More than 400 veterans will have a merrier Christmas because someone cared.

American Legion Post 70 Auxiliary in Troy played Santa Claus to the veterans at Tuskegee Hospital and Nursing Home and the residential care facilities in Troy over the weekend and through Monday.

“Each year on the first Saturday in December, we pay visits to our veterans who are in hospitals and nursing homes and take them Christmas baskets filled with different items that they will use and enjoy,” said Faye Pittman, Auxiliary president. “This year, we, along with Post 67 in Valley, Post 152 in Opelika, Post 135 in Phenix City and Post 141 in LaFayette prepared 385 baskets for our veterans in Tuskegee.

“Major Calvin Morris and the Pike County High School JROTC assisted us with this project and also traveled to Tuskegee with us and helped deliver the baskets.”

Pittman said many of the veterans are either not able to go home for Christmas or have no home to which to go.

“So these baskets are very special them,” she said. “We want so show our appreciation to these veterans for all that they have done for us. This project is as special and as meaningful to us as it is to our veterans.”

On Monday, Katie Hale, Post 70 Auxiliary member, and Julius Pittman, Post 70 member, delivered Christmas to 24 veterans at Troy Health and Rehabilitation Center, Nobel Manor and Magnolia Wood Lodge.

“This annual project would not be possible without the support of the community through donations,” Hale said. “The baskets contain blankets, socks, lotions, stamps, writing materials, toothpaste and brushes and a variety of other items. Our Auxiliary collects caps every year and each veteran here and in Tuskegee gets a cap. They really look forward to getting a cap and we want to thank all of those who donated caps for this year.”

Hale said the baskets mean a lot to the veterans but the visits are just as greatly appreciated.

The visits are also an opportunity for the veterans to remember their service.

Fred Houlton served his country five and a half years, from 1940 to 1945. Four plus of those years were in the South Pacific.

“I was in California when Pearl Harbor was bombed,” Houlton said. “They shipped us right out. I drove a truck taking supplies to the front lines.” He paused a few minutes to remember. “Sometimes, we brought some of our men back with us. But they didn’t know it. That was mighty tough.”

Bill Beck also served with the Army in the South Pacific. He volunteered because be believed serving his country was just part of life and it was the right thing to do.

“Everybody else was going so I was, too,” he said.

“If I had to do it over again, I would. But I couldn’t go now, not in the condition I’m in but, if I could, I would.”