Leader photo/JOHN EBY Marine Riders of Michiana, pictured Saturday night, were to leave Butler Tree Farm’s campground on motorcycles early Sunday to deliver a $12,000 contribution to the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids.

Archived Story

Marine Riders deliver $12K

Published 6:01pm Sunday, August 5, 2012

Marine Riders of Michiana left Butler Tree Farm’s campground on motorcycles early Sunday to deliver their $12,000 contribution to the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids.

Besides at least 30 of the brotherhood on bikes, they were followed by Army brethren in cars — “cages,” in biker parlance — pushing the number closer to 50, including Neil Wetterow of Neil’s Automotive in Buchanan, who grew up in the home, and their hosts, Sam and Brenda Butler.

Their sponsor board includes a number of local businesses, such as Creative Vinyl, Judd Lumber, Dr. Mathews, Ed Kazlauskas, Steve Green, Tom Hartsell and VFW Post 1855.

“These aren’t major corporations,” Brenda said. “These are our small local friends at Jim D’s and Division Tire stepping up and helping the cause. We’re just a group of Marines with passion for military children.”

Motorcyclists who overnighted at Butler’s converged from Sturgis, Warsaw, Mishawaka, South Bend, New Paris and Osceola, including Vice President Jay “Moto” Reppert.

“We’ve got guys in Indianapolis, East Chicago and East Lansing, Mich., but most of us are in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, Ind.,” Reppert said. “We’re spread out all over the place.”

Shattering a $5,000 goal from April to June with $12,000 is how Marines roll.

“One-hundred percent of the money goes to the home,” Sam Butler said.

Since its founding in 1925, the VFW National Home for Children has grown from an old frame farm house to a sprawling campus with playgrounds, parks areas and multiple buildings, including single-family homes, a community center and gymnasium, child care center, guest lodge, chapel and administrative offices.

The Ladies Auxiliary Nursery, added in 1945, is a full-service, state-licensed child care facility with classrooms for infants, toddlers and preschool/school-age children.

The VFW Ladies Auxiliary Nursery is home to the National Home’s on-site early childhood education program. Children up to 6 years of age receive high-quality care in a safe, nurturing environment designed with them in mind.

Veterans’ children who need a place to live, learn and grow find a loving and supportive environment at the VFW National Home for Children. In the residential program, children may live at the National Home their entire childhood through college, while a family member retains guardianship.

It’s a safety net for today’s military during periods of National Guard and Reserve deployments.

A veteran with children who is approved for VA vocational rehabilitation may be eligible to live at the National Home and receive supportive services.

Service is an essential part of the growth process at the VFW National Home for Children. Residents take part in activities for the local community, visiting museums, writing letters and visiting veterans and hospitals to make them mindful of the need to give back through service.

“We shot for $5,000 because that’s what the Legion riders did last year” before the Marines adopted the project, Reppert said. “Here we are at $12,000, and we’ve still got people giving us donations.”

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