Members of the 40 & 8 are overcome with the smell of home cooking as they walk through the doors of the VFW on the third Thursday of the month. The meal is prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2591.
“Anytime the post wants to do a fundraiser, the ladies usually cook. We do all the cooking for American Legion Post 16 and the 40 & 8,” said Barb Erickson, auxiliary president.
Their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Each month the VFW Auxiliary cooks breakfast for an average of 100 40 & 8ers,” said Tony Gallagher, commander of 40 & 8, Voiture 333. “They are always willing to help us when the occasion arises. Without them we would be up a creek without a paddle. They are there to serve who ever needs help.”
Before the 40 & 8 meetings, the women are in the kitchen by 6 a.m. First on the agenda is cracking 250 eggs. Then two women scramble them while another woman is in charge of oven work. A fourth woman makes sure the coffee is brewing.
“You get those people in there who know what they’re doing and it’s done,” said Erickson.
“We’ve done it so long, we’ve got it down to a science. It’s almost scary,” said Vera Harrison, auxiliary member and District 6 president.
The next dinner they are working on is Post 16’s Christmas party. They want it to be extra special and are planning to prepare a traditional feast. The meal will include ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, rolls, dessert and several vegetables.
Meanwhile, they are now in a rotation with the VFW post and the men’s auxiliary to prepare food for bingo night. Regular bingo players enjoy the ladies because they are known for their special dishes like chicken and noodles, meat loaf or soup.
“When we have night things, we generally have a more diverse crew,” said Harrison. “We’re not assigned jobs, we just know what we do.”
Erickson believes the key to successful kitchen time is having fun.
“We get in there and we laugh and we talk, tease each other and have a good time. It makes it go by fast,” she said.
The money they receive from these meals helps local charities and auxiliary programs.
“It gives us money to do the things in the community that we want to do. We give to the Boys and Girls Club, senior center, hospice and things like that,” Erickson said.
Another thing the auxiliary does is provide free funeral dinners for members of the post who have died. All the family has to do is request it.
“If a post member passes away, if they call and ask, we can do some kind of dinner,” said Erickson.
Harrison added how difficult it is to host a dinner after losing one of their own members.
“They are tough, especially when it’s somebody close. Cooking is easy. Doing the memorial service with the flowers and trying to talk without crying is ...” She began to tear up and walked away.
When the auxiliary isn’t in the kitchen, they find other ways to lend a helping hand. They were instrumental in updating the bingo hall. They painted the walls and paid for both bathrooms to be remodeled. They also participated in the Run for Freedom 5K, 10K and Poker Walk at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg. Additionally, they have taken over festivities for St. Patrick’s Day which includes the annual parade.
“You’ve got to believe in this in order to put in so much volunteer time,” Harrison said.