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JWV Memorial Day poppy sales fund programs for vets

Marking this Memorial Day, you’ll find members of the Friedman-Paul Post 201 of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America offering traditional red poppy flowers for donations at Safeway supermarkets across Tucson. The post uses funds raised from twice-annual poppy sales to host monthly bingo sessions at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Hospital in Tucson, among other activities.

The patients appreciate the distraction and the small cash bingo prizes, about $600 annually, says Sylvia Winner, the post’s sunshine chair. “It means so much to them.”

In the past, post members have contributed toiletries and shaving kits for patients. They donated rocking chairs and yoga classes to the hospital, both tools for combatting post-traumatic stress disorder. They help annually with Arizona Veterans Standdown Alliance housing coalition and its assistance programs.

The local post also has helped provide internet assistance for blind veterans to use GPS systems, donated furniture to the military lounge at Tucson International Airport and a piano to the Arizona State Veteran’s Home, and supported Fisher House Foundation, which provides families temporary housing near VA hospitals.

Jewish War Veterans was founded in 1896 and is the oldest active veterans’ organization in the United States. The local chapter has been active in Tucson since 1950. Its mission is to make it known that Jews served in the U.S. armed forces, by participating in public functions such as the Veterans Day parade and the Four Chaplains memorial service, serving as color guard at other religious functions or activities, and fighting anti-Semitism whenever possible. “We are a shrinking organization,” Seymour Shapiro, the group’s membership chair, notes. Reliance on Memorial Day donations is critical.

Membership is available to any Jewish veteran who served in the armed forces of the United States on active duty, in the reserves, or National Guard. Additionally, any Jewish veteran from a foreign nation that participated in a joint military operation with the United States is eligible for membership. Members meet monthly, and host a monthly breakfast, except for July and August (see Community Calendar, page 22).

For more information, contact Murray Baker, post commander, at 747-1085, or Shapiro at 398-5360.