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Published: Wednesday, 2/10/2010

Maumee auxiliary aims to make Feb. 14 sweet for troops

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Members of an American Legion Junior Auxiliary in Maumee have made more than 100 Valentine cards as a sweet salute to military personnel who make sacrifices to protect America's freedoms.

"I wish I could make a million cards. That way, I could make all the soldiers feel super-duper special," 4-year-old Zoe Morse told her mother, Victoria Binegar, director of Junior Auxiliary activities for Legion Post 320.

The cards were sent by Ms. Binegar to the Bob Hope/USO Lounge at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, where soldiers who are shipping out will receive one of the Valentine's Day cards this week.

Military personnel arriving at the airport will receive thank-you notes from the Maumee Post's Sons of the American Legion, Ms. Binegar of Maumee said.

Junior Auxiliary member Kelsey Kurek of Whitehouse, an 11-year-old sixth-grade student at Anthony Wayne Middle School, said she's pleased to be involved in activities that support the troops. "It is really nice to do this, and we want to do this every year for a bunch of holidays," she said.

Most of the girls, whose relatives have served or are serving in the military, live in the Maumee area.

Miss Kurek, who has been named the American Legion Post's Poppy Queen for the third year in a row, said the cut-out Valentine's Day cards were decorated with stickers, candy hearts, and heart-felt messages.

"We are thanking them for what they do. They deserve to be thanked," Miss Kurek said. "We hope it helps them to feel better."

Miss Kurek said she joined the Junior Auxiliary in part because she was interested in belonging to a group involved in fun activities. But she's interested too in the group's mission to support military personnel and veterans.

"I wanted to do this," she said, "not just to have fun, but to do the right thing."

The Juniors organization started the year with a get-together in January, and the card-making activity was the second event for the re-activated group, Ms. Binegar said.

"The girls thought it would be sad for our men and women overseas to be away from their families and surrounded by war on a day that is supposed to be dedicated to love," explained Ms. Binegar, who took over the duties as Junior Auxiliary director this year.

A former Junior Auxiliary member, and a former Poppy Queen, Ms. Binegar said she was interested in rallying the group.

The oldest girls in the group are 16; membership is open to girls up to the age of 17, and a 3-year-old has expressed interest in joining, Ms. Binegar said.

"You can't be too young to love America."



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