Members of the Big Pine American Legion are pooling their resources to honor and help local veterans.
Through its new Adopt-A-Vet program, the post has found a way to pay special tribute to community members deserving of recognition for their service to this country.
In 2011, the Big Pine Legion has selected Robert Cox and Robin Sparks, both of Big Pine, for adoption. To show the post’s appreciation, the Legion recently presented Cox with a Big Pine Warriors Jacket and Sparks with a $50 gift certificate for Kmart.
“Three years ago we realized that we had extra money and thought about what we could do with it,” said Big Pine resident and American Legion Auxiliary member Lois Wilson. “We thought we could give it to the vets.”
The VFW and Ladies Auxiliary got together to brainstorm ideas on criteria for the newly formed Adopt-A-Vet program, and decided that whoever would be “adopted” should be a special resident.
“We wanted to pick somebody who is unique and different. Bob is a unique and different man,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that Cox, owner of the Bristlecone Laundromat in Big Pine, is a staple in the local community, always attending Big Pine Warriors sporting events and turning up at community functions.
Now 87, Cox served in the Marines First Division, in Okinawa from 1943-46, and was presented the Purple Heart in 1945. He has been a Big Pine resident for the last 19 years, and has run the Bristlecone Laundromat since its inception 10 years ago.
The other recipient, Sparks, is a member of the American Legion, having served four years in the Navy, from l973-77. The longtime Big Pine resident is a licensed LVN, and an active member of Big Pine Methodist Church.
“There aren’t very many female veterans in the Big Pine area, and she does a lot for others in the community,” Wilson said.
In addition to the Adopt-a-Vet program, the Big Pine American Legion helps local veterans pay for gas and other expenses for trips to the veterans hospital in Reno.
“We make our money through the shaved ice booth that we run Memorial Day weekend and we get donations. The money from the shaved ice booth is used solely for our veterans,” Wilson said. “We also have dinners and bake sales and those regular kind of fundraisers.”
The Big Pine American Legion Post is made up of 35 members from all over the state and 35 members of the Post Auxiliary.