By Jeff Smith
CORNING - The American Legion Auxiliary’s celebration of a century of selfless service and making a difference Sunday at the Corning American Legion John P. Eaton Post 746 was a great success.
“I think the event has been great,” said Diane Gridley, president of the Corning American Legion Auxiliary. “I think it’s wonderful all the people have come and participated in it. I think it's really a great event.”
American Legion Auxiliary Department president Linda Tome, who spoke at the beginning of the buffet event, said, “we’ve come a long way from doing the activities more suitable for a woman.
“In 2019, the organization’s total volunteer hours was 7.1 million hours, we awarded over $1.4 million dollars in scholarships and raised over $3.6 million dollars through poppy distribution.”
Tome said although the American Legion Auxiliary has charged a bit over the last 100 years its members can still be seen baking pies and serving dinner to its many veterans as well as sending care packages and real Christmas trees now to deployed troops and writing notes to wounded veterans in hospital.
“Our membership makes a difference,” Tome said. “Because without our membership and our commitment to our programs, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating and enjoying each other’s company and we wouldn’t be here for our veterans, military and their families who still need our support.”
Nearly 100 people filled the Corning American Legion building to take part in the celebration. The 100th anniversary of the American Legion Auxiliary is a nation-wide celebration.
“The birthday was chartered November 10, 1919,” Auxiliary treasurer Maryann Mineo said. “The Auxiliary has given us the entire year to celebrate this. The Corning American Legion Auxiliary was chartered May 13, 1929. So this May we are going to be 91 years old.”
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, who also spoke at the event, handed the American Legion Auxiliary members a legislative resolution to recognize the 100th year of their founding.
“It’s just a small tribute that we can do to just say thank you for what they have contributed to our veterans over the past 100 years and the services they provide,” Palmesano said. “We need to do more to honor our veterans, we need to make sure to provide them the services and benefits, not they just deserve, but they have earned and paid for. So that’s what we are here today to celebrate and honor them and to say thank you.”
The event also included remarks from Corning City Mayor Bill Boland, South Corning Mayor James A. Thomas and Steuben County American Legion Auxiliary President Colleen McDaniel.