Businessman, American Legion go digital to connect kids, veterans


FAIRBORN — Pete Bates of Shwartz Jewelery in Fairborn has a long history of rendering assistance to the third district American Legion Auxiliary.

The organization recognized the Fairborn business owner for sponsoring their Children & Youth and Junior Activities Program. Most recently, Bates provided Halloween-themed charm bracelets as prizes for the Auxiliary’s Halloween Costume Contest. The contest not only brought a little bit of fun to the season for the Legion Auxiliary’s junior members, but also is a first step in taking the Legion’s brand to the digital world.

“We wanted to do something fun for Halloween,” said Pam Bates. She is the third district American Legion Auxiliary Children & Youth Chairman, and Pete’s spouse.

“We were concerned that a lot of kids weren’t going to get out for trick or treat, and thought this would be something fun,” she said. “It’s our first time ever doing it, and we’ve had some lessons learned about going digital.”

With the challenges presented by COVID-19, this year required a little creativity in order to get the message out. Pam Bates, as well as Junior Activities Chairman Carol Robinson, turned to social media.

“We’re trying to think of innovative things to get kids involved and learning about veterans,” Pam Bates said. “Who they are, that they fought for our freedom, and that’s why they get to do what they get to do.”

With Halloween past and Thanksgiving coming up, the Auxiliary’s latest project is distributing turkey-themed coloring pages for children to decorate. Those pages, along with messages of thanks, will be sent to veterans at the Dayton VA this Thanksgiving.

Pete Bates, whose father served in World War II, is a son of the American Legion. Though not a Legionnaire himself, Bates supports the mission of the organization by giving back.

“The American Legion has done good things in the community for a hundred years,” he said. “Particularly this year it seemed like a good idea to use social media to stimulate membership. I was happy to donate them. It was something I could do.”

The third District of the American Legion Auxiliary covers Clark, Greene, Champaign, Darke, Miami, Montgomery, and Preble counties.

By London Bishop

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Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532

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