Belleville Sons of the American Legion Squadron donates nearly $35K to local and national charities

The year-end numbers are in and Belleville Squadron 105 of the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) gave out $34,616 to charity, community programs, endeavors promoting Americanism and projects which benefit veterans over the past year.

“It’s what we do,” Squadron Commander Steve Sangemino said when the final tally was read at the Squadron’s May meeting.

Each year, squadrons throughout the country are required by the national organization to submit Consolidated Squadron Reports, or CSRs. These reports log money donated, projects undertaken and man-hours volunteered from June 1 through the following May 31.


Reports from across the 55 detachments – all of the states plus Latin America, the Philippines, France, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico – are compiled so the American Legion may present a comprehensive accounting of the millions of dollars of donations and volunteer hours when testifying in front of Congress at the annual Washington Conference in February.

The American Legion – and the Sons by extension, as they are a program of the Legion – promotes the “Four Pillars” of the organization, established back in 1919 — Veterans Affairs, Children and Youth, Americanism and National Defense.

The CSR is an account of how each of those four pillars are supported by the individual squadron.

In Belleville, Squadron 105 does a few fundraisers throughout the year to support their projects – and raises thousands of dollars which get put directly back into initiatives here in the community, and throughout New Jersey and the nation. Ranging from the annual picnic in September, to can-shake fundraisers handing out flags in November, the squadron attributes its success to our unbelievably generous Belleville neighbors.

They can be counted on each year to donate toys and coats for our toy drives, to donate gift certificates to raffle off at our picnic, to support our Fisher House raffle and to putting a few dollars in our cans when we stand outside ShopRite. What SAL 105 does is a direct reflection of the community’s kindness and this piece is written so they may see where every dollar they donate goes to do good out in the world.

In breaking down the almost $35,000, $2,824 went to promote Americanism. Examples of projects include purchasing hundreds of dollars of wreaths to lay on veterans’ graves in Belleville and at Doyle Cemetery in Wrightstown on Wreaths Across America Day in December; and having a “thank you” luncheon for our community’s veterans on Veterans Day – something that became a Commander’s Project in 2019 and has been done ever since.

Other Americanism projects include donations to sponsor students from Belleville to Jersey Boys State, a week-long program exposing high school juniors to the fundamentals of how our democracy works.

Some $3,473 went to community-focused projects at home, such as a $2,273 donation to the Gail’s Angels Foundation, a cancer charity based out of Belleville helping moms with breast cancer who have special needs kids. An additional $7,451 on top of that went directly back to the post, primarily from the Annual Picnic – which helps fund Post 105 Family’s Essex County programs including temporary financial assistance for local veterans.

Other community projects included handing out food and jackets to the homeless in Newark, and holding three Blood Drives at the Post home.

Also, $5,350 was donated to projects in New Jersey and abroad supporting Veterans Affairs and rehabilitation, perhaps the most important role the American Legion plays. Major projects of the squadron this year included supporting fundraisers for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), plus a $3,500 donation to the Fisher House Foundation, which builds and operates comfort housing for veterans and their families at VA facilities around the world – a donation made on-site at the Bronx VA in March.

Other projects included a donation to Operation Comfort Warrior (OCW) in December as part of our “Season of Giving,” and a $1,000 donation to the Detachment Commander’s Project, which is building an outdoor recreation space for the veteran residents of the Paramus Veterans Home.

But by far the biggest area which SAL 105 supports is Children and Youth, where we funneled a whopping $15,518 by helping our kids. Between Christmas in July and our December Toy and Coat Drive, to buying cookies from the Girl Scouts for our deployed troops, to a donation to the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, to hosting a picnic recently which netted almost $6,000 for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), SAL 105 really tries to live out the tagline of “Sons for Kids.”

Much of that money goes to Belleville’s children as well – from supporting Belleville Cheerleaders, to awarding a $500 high school scholarship, to sponsoring a baseball team so kids don’t have to buy uniforms.

In the end, Squadron 105 is very proud of what we have accomplished this past year – and over the past few years since we had a “renaissance” at the Sons in 2019. Since that year, after adding up five years of CSRs, Squadron 105 has been responsible for approximately $101,000 in donations to charity.

We also thank Belleville and the surrounding community for their support throughout the year – every dollar that they give goes back out, and truly drives home how much the American Legion is a force for good. We are blessed to have a community of neighbors which support our veterans and children through their boundless generosity, and through this hope we show that we are worthy stewards of their kindness.

From the bottom of our hearts, you have our deepest gratitude.

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Rusty Myers | Belleville Sons of the American Legion