VFW Post 3429, in Toledo, has been part of the local community for the last 80 years and will be turning in their charter May 31 due to declines in participation, which they share with VFW posts across the country, say Post 3429 officials.
Toledo’s VFW Post 3429 has announced they will be closing due to significant decreases in participation, and will be turning in their charter at the end of next month.
First mustered in 1934, the post had served for 80 years as a gathering place and source of philanthropy and service to veterans throughout Toledo, but has been unable to keep up their efforts due to both an aging population of members and decrease in community participation.
“It’s all across the united states,” said Mary Huckleberry, district president for the Women’s Auxiliary and wife of Post 3429 Commander Roy Huckleberry.
Mary Huckleberry said VFW posts all across the country are experiencing such declines, stating it is not uncommon for veterans retuning from more recent wars to join other, more modern veterans’ organizations.
“It’s time to let the young ones take over,” she said.
Of the services Post 3429 had been offering, including a venue for local Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, as well as fundraising for scholarships and other community programs, Mary Huckleberry said the service she will miss the most is being able to go into the schools and teach children proper flag etiquette, stating the respect Americans used to afforded their flag is not being impressed upon younger generations.
Secretary/Treasurer Doris Blum said what is hitting her the hardest is the loss of local history, as documents and photographs are being boxed up to send to VFW leadership in Seattle.
“It’s just heartbreaking to send that stuff away from Lewis County,” she said, adding significant personal histories are also being lost every time of one of the aging members of the post passes away. “There’s so much history lost with each of these guys.”
Among many of the items being boxed up are pieces of equipment, appliances and dinnerware which had been used during events such as regular music performances on Saturday nights, and Blum said it is their hope to sell many, if not all, of these items to help cover closing costs as well as final utility bills.
Blum said many items have already been purchased by American Legion Post 101, in Winlock, and the remainder will be featured in a yard sale scheduled for May 2-4, with a goal of raising at least $700.
The building itself will become the responsibility of the Toledo School District, from whom Post 3429 originally acquired the building in 1946. Toledo School District Superintendent Sharon Bower, who was contacted April 1 by Post 3429 to be informed of the closure, said certain legal procedures are required to transfer ownership of the building, and district officials will be in a position to consider the property’s future after they are resolved.
Once the post is officially closed, which will take place after they turn in their charter May 31, Mary Huckleberry and Blum say they hope the friendships developed among post members will continue, as they all share in the common bonds of service.
“We’re going to miss the organization, and the camaraderie of each other,” said Blum.
“We’ll have to get together one afternoon and have a piece of pie or a cup of coffee or something,” said Mary Huckleberry.
For those wishing to learn more about the closure of the VFW or the upcoming yard sale, call Blum at (360) 520-3516.