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SERVICE CIRCUIT: The Marine Corps League Auxiliary provides community and veteran assistance

Units of the Marine Corps League Auxiliary aid the Marine Corps League detachments in their work for veterans and the community.

Maureen Ailor, of Imlay City, is president of the Department of Michigan Marine Corps League Auxiliary. As a member, also, of the Macomb County Marine Corps League Auxiliary to the county’s MCL Detachment 154, she was recently part of a ceremony to honor three other women members.

Recognized for 25 years of service were Irene Spooner of Harrison Township; Loretta Balderson of Riley Township, for 23 years of service; and Macomb Township resident Nancy Haase for more than 45 years of volunteerism. The women volunteer for the auxiliary, and for veteran-related causes outside of it.

“They were recognized for their years of dedication of service to the auxiliary, and to our veterans,” Ailor said. “They work tirelessly and I am honored to be a part of this unit. What we do pales in comparison to what our veterans have done for us in the past with all their sacrifices and selflessness.”

Auxiliary members recently conducted Rose Day in Richmond where they collected canister donations in exchange for an artificial rose in memory of people who died in war.

“I want our roses to become as popular as the poppy,” Ailor said.

The rose as a symbol was used by the French in World War I when U.S. Marines fought the Germans in the trenches at Belleau Wood. Roses were planted by grateful French people at the graves of fallen American soldiers.

Marine Corps detachments and their auxiliaries use proceeds to assist hospitalized veterans with comfort items and recreational programs, and for scholarships and other help with youth groups such as The Young Marines.

Some detachments conduct the drive around the time of the Marine Corps birthday, which is Nov. 10.

“Money just goes to help vets. It doesn’t go to paper, ink, stamps, only to veterans in distress or in need. We just started collecting this money, but the Department of Michigan has recently helped a family out who lost their house in a fire,” she said.

Irene Spooner helped with Rose Day.

“Irene makes all of our raffle baskets for our big fundraiser in November on the Marine Corps birthday. Everybody brings their wives and family and we have a birthday ceremony for the Marines. We have a cake and we serve the oldest member of the Marine Corps that is in the building and the youngest. They get the first pieces of cake,” she said.

A speech comes from the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant.

The Marines observe the 247th birthday of the Marine Corps on Nov. 10 at the American Legion Post 351, 46146 Cass Ave., Utica. The celebration is 4-9 p.m. with a traditional cake-cutting ceremony at 7 p.m. A $10 donation is recommended. There will be meat entrees.

“Loretta Balderson makes quilts,” Ailor said. “She’s in a quilting guild and she donates a quilt every year for our raffle.”

Miracle Quilts for Veterans are sewn by volunteers to be given away.

“Miracle Quilts started a couple years when a serviceman named Miracle was killed,” Balderson said. “A friend of his who was a school teacher decided to do something in his honor and started collecting quilts from organizations and individuals and delivering them to hospitals like Bethesda (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and now even to veterans homes. It’s no one group. I belong to Anchor Bay Quilt Guild. Last year I brought up that Toys for Tots was going to be happening and members donated six garbage bags full of new toys. I took them to our meeting and gave them to the men. The Marine Corps brought a truck over to where we meet and took the toys to be distributed.

“The VA has a baby shower for veterans. We made baby blankets and quilts and burp cloths. Irene Spooner took their car which was full. The Auxiliary donated $300 for diapers and wipes and things like that and my car was full, and we took all that down to the VA hospital for their shower. Those things were not really planned-planned, we just did it,” Balderson said.

She added that at the request of fellow quilter and veterans advocate, Karen Straffon, she began making quilts specially for wheelchair-users, particularly the ones who go on Honor Flights to Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight Michigan.

“I have eight of those to give. If we hear of a purpose we do it, and we use all of our own material and our own time,” Balderson said.

“Nancy (Haase) was a member of another detachment,” Ailor said. “Her husband passed away and our Marines and auxiliary attended the funeral and I met Nancy there. She had been president of her unit, a department president in Michigan, and then became the national chaplain. So she’s had a long history of service.”

Ailor said the auxiliary is planning another year of working on the upcoming Wreaths Across America program at Resurrection Cemetery, and will lay a memorial wreath at the Veterans Day ceremony at Clinton Grove Cemetery, as they did on Memorial Day.

Ailor’s deceased husband, Darryl, was a Vietnam veteran.

“I do it for him, in his memory,” she said. “If he was alive we’d be doing this together. He would never talk about what he did in Vietnam.”

The auxiliary has a GroupRaise restaurant fundraiser 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 18 at Buddy’s Pizza, 45841 Hayes Road, Shelby Township. See groupraise.com/events/261017.

Contact Ailor for details at [email protected] or 810-310-6081.

The Marine Corps League Auxiliary chartered in 1937 as a subsidiary organization to the Marine Corps League. It is now an affiliate of the MCL. Among its goals are to preserve the traditions and interests “of the United States Marine Corps and be true to American ideals; hold sacred the history and memory of the men and women who died in service to the nation; perpetuate the history of the USMC by observing the anniversaries of historical occasions of interest to the Corps; create camaraderie between the Marine Corps League and Auxiliary; aid and assist Marines and other veterans and their families; decorate graves of deceased Marines; and support legislation favorable to the USMC and USMCL.

Marine Corps League Auxiliary membership is open to a wide range of female relatives of a current or former Marine or a U.S. Navy Fleet Marine Force corpsman or a FMF Navy chaplain. Women Marines are eligible also, although there is a separate Women Marines Association. Other women may join as associate members.

Veteran of the Year nominations close on Oct. 27

VIDEO: Holiday Message from the National Marine Corps League Auxiliary
The Marine Corps League

In the run-up to Veterans Day, the Macomb County Board of Commissioners expresses its appreciation to military service members for their contributions by presenting the annual Pat Daniels Macomb County Veteran of the Year award. The board seeks nominations through Oct. 27 from among the over 44,000 veterans who live in the county. See bocmacomb.org/programs/veteran-of-the-year-award Contact the board at [email protected] or call 586-469-5125.

Send news of service clubs and veterans organizations to Linda May at [email protected] or call landline 586-791-8116.


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