By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(July 19, 2018) American Legion Post #231 on Saturday got a makeover by volunteers from the veterans’ organization with the help of a donation of paint and labor by Home Depot.
“We’ve been trying to get this project started for three years. To get people to volunteer their time and with the money, it just stalled,” D.J. Lockwood said. “And then the Home Depot came right in.”
Lockwood, second vice commander of the Sons of the American Legion, joined the organization 40 years ago, when he was just 8. His father was also a Legion member.
“We went there just to see if we could get a donation for paint and they said, ‘Not only will we give you paint, we’ll give you labor,’” Lockwood said. “They had a team of at least eight-to-10 people and they were great. They said, ‘Anything for veterans and kids.’”
Lockwood said Home Depot and Legion volunteers arrived at about 7:55 a.m. on Saturday and finished the work in three hours.
“By 8 o’clock, paint was on the building and, with all the volunteers, we jumped to it,” he said.
The building, on 104 Showell Street in Berlin, went up around 1953, according to Legion member Gregory Purnell.
Inside, just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, about a dozen volunteers sat inside Post #231 getting ready to eat lunch. Among them was Town Council Vice President Elroy Brittingham, the longest serving elected official in Berlin.
“The building’s been here before we even got here, because the building belonged to the Odd Fellows,” Brittingham said. “It’s maybe over 60 years old.”
Lockwood said the work on Saturday represented more than just a new coat of paint.
“It shows that we’re making an effort to unify everything. We wish there was a day when more people could see what’s happening, because we’re a community,” he said. “Everyone wants the community to look nice and this is a place that I frequent. You’re going to do what you need to do to keep your stuff looking good – and this is our stuff.
“We’re just happy that we got it done,” Lockwood continued. “This is a project that’s been going on for a couple years and we finally gained traction on it this year. When I first got elected, that was one of the projects I said I wanted to get done and, by me opening my big mouth, [it got done].”
The lodge is used for everything from feeding senior citizens during regular community dinners, to hosting events for local schoolchildren, not to mention activities for veterans, according to both Brittingham and Lockwood.
Last year, the Legion held a school-supply drive with donations from Staples, Walmart, Sysco and others.
“We did that one week before school and it was a big success,” Lockwood said. “So, we’re definitely doing that again. I hate to say it, but school is right around the corner.”
For more information or to donate school supplies, call the Legion at 410-641-2067.