July 04, 2012 - Two young members of Oxford American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108 did their organization, their families and their community proud by earning state-level honors.
Winning awards at the 94th Annual State Convention for the American Legion Department of Michigan held in Kalamazoo were (from left) Shauntia Martin, Kasie Jeffery, Bill Service and Kathy Hubbard. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Kasie Jeffery, of Oxford, was named the state's Junior Auxiliary Member of the Year, while Shauntia Martin, of Rochester, earned the title of Michigan Department Junior Miss Poppy 2012.
Both honors were bestowed at the 94th Annual State Convention for the American Legion Department of Michigan held in Kalamazoo between June 28 and July 1.
"This makes me happy," said Jeffery, who will enter the seventh grade this fall at Oakview Middle School in Orion. "I was hopping around in the living room (when I found out), going 'Yay! Yay! Yay!'"
Jeffery believes it's important to help veterans whenever possible and show them gratitude, "so people don't forget them."
From creating care packages for U.S. soldiers serving overseas to giving the keynote speech at last year's Memorial Day ceremony in Centennial Park, Jeffery always does her best to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of military personnel.
"If you see a veteran, hug them (and) tell them, 'Thank you for your service,'" she said. "Tell them you'll remember them; you won't forget them."
Last year, Jeffery served as Junior Miss Poppy at the unit, district and state levels.
As this year's Junior Miss Poppy, Martin has been an extremely busy young lady helping veterans wherever and whenever she's able.
"Lots of people say they care about veterans, but they don't do anything (for them)," she said. "They need to do more than just care. They need to make veterans and soldiers feel special."
Martin, 12, has placed flags on local veterans' graves for Memorial Day; created care packages for troops serving overseas; decorated Christmas trees at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit; baked cookies for a Christmas party for homeless veterans; did volunteer work at the veterans hospital; gave a speech and helped lay wreaths during Oxford's 2012 Memorial Day services; and participated in the Auxiliary's annual Poppy Days fund-raiser, which this year raised more than $8,000, a new record for Unit 108.
"I want people to see how the American Legion represents veterans and soldiers," she said.
Martin draws inspiration from her grandfather, Richard Wood, a Korean War veteran who served in the United States Air Force from 1952-56 and in the reserves until 1960.
Wood is a proud member of American Legion Post 108 and a former Oxford resident who now lives in Lake Orion.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.