Thanking our veterans

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Lansing Junior Woman’s Club hosts annual dinner

BY Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (June 4, 2018) – Members of the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club are making sure that veterans in Lansing and neighboring communities are not forgotten, by holding an annual dinner in their honor. The ninth Annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner took place May 10 at Dream Palace in Lynwood; 224 veterans and guests attended.

Continuing to Grow

The dinners started out at the American Legion hall and then relocated to the Knights of Columbus after outgrowing their original venue. Two years ago, the event had again grown to the point that a larger location was needed, and the move was made to Dream Palace.

Veterans of different decades gathered together for a plated sit-down dinner, which was different from the buffet-style meal that was served in the past. With the exception of a $5 cost for guests, the entire event was free to attendees and is made possible through donations and fundraisers.

Special guests

Guests from each of the branches of military and those who served during major conflicts of the past seven decades were in attendance, including World War II veteran O. Lawton “Wilk” Wilkerson. Wilkerson was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American aviators, the first to serve in the U.S. military.

Mayor Patty Eidam, a U.S. Army veteran, and Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich offered some words of thanks to the attendees. Also addressing the audience was Mike Sanow of the Illiana Network, an organization that offers funds and support for military, fire, and police officers and their families.

Eight members of the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard presented colors.

Mutual Gratitude

While the dinner is held to offer appreciation to veterans for their service and sacrifices, there were plenty of thanks on the part of those who attended for the volunteers who execute the event. David Conlee of Griffith said that the dinner is something that local veterans look forward to each year. Conlee served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1977 to 1983, and he is a member of the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard.

“The dinner is a great treat for all the veterans every year. The vets I talk to love it,” said Conlee. “I personally look forward to it each year, and the Lansing Junior Womans Club does a great job.”

LJWC President Jocelyn Farris said she is already looking forward to next year’s event. “I’m proud to be involved in such a wonderful organization. Over the years I have met several wonderful men and women who selflessly gave of themselves to serve our country,” she said.

Mama Rosalie and more

The dinner comes together with a lot of planning and a lot of fundraising. LJWC member Rosalie Putignano has been organizing Mama Rosalie’s Spaghetti Dinner for the past five years, which helps bring in money to fund the dinner. Using her own recipes, she spends two days making sauce and meatballs in preparation for the fundraiser, which usually takes place in January. “I’m very happy being involved with it. I love the vets,” said Putignano. “They’re appreciative of dinner and are very nice to us and enjoy the dinner. It’s always a lot of fun. It does my heart good. It’s a great, electrifying night.”

Donations from other organizations help too. The Lansing Lions Club, the Lansing Copper Muggers, and some veterans organizations have all made contributions to the event.

In addition to monetary donations, the club solicits businesses, organizations, and individuals for prizes that are raffled off at the event. Putignano estimated that there were about 60 prize baskets as raffle prizes.