ENCINITAS — The American Legion San Dieguito Post 416 has been helping support veterans for many, many years.
This Veteran’s Day, the Post is going to help veterans in a new way. On Nov. 11, the Post is hosting their inaugural Moonlight Open Surfing event.
“It’s the American Legion, and they’re all about veterans,” said Alan Lerchbacker, media relations and event coordinator with the Post.
It’s the first event ever like this for the Post, he explained, and has the goal of getting as many veterans and as many non-military people together.
With about 550 members from around North County, the Post in Encinitas has performed some 13,980 hours of services for veterans in the area, including helping place vets in jobs, according to Lerchbacker.
But while members have veterans’ interests at heart, the Post is in need of some support, too.
Last year, the Post started a new program called, “Save The Legion,” to raise funds to help remodel the building where it’s been for the past 83 years.
While the bar area of the Post is how their members like it, the rest of the building has become dilapidated.
“It’s been let go,” Lerchbacker said. “The kitchen is just a mess, so we’re going to re-do everything but the bar area.”
They’ve got plans to take office space in the upstairs area to create a second landing where they can have bands and entertainment, with the hopes of making the site more of a community center for veterans and the rest of the community, he explained.
“Everybody thinks of the American Legion like the VFW — the place where old guys go to drink — we really want to make it more like a family. We want families to come there,” he said.
The campaign has the goal of raising $750,000, said Lerchbacker. So far they’ve raised $125,000 in less than a year.
Wednesday’s event will be the Legion’s third fundraising effort. The Legion has also received a $25,000 grant from San Diego County Board of Supervisor Dave Roberts. Lerchbacker said they’re hoping to do some groundbreaking by June of next year, and continue their fundraising efforts until then.
Donations can be made at any time on their website, calegionpost416.org or at the event. The Legion will also be auctioning off bricks.
The Moonlight Open event begins at 9 a.m. with Wounded Warrior surfing followed by the Flying Leathernecks Sky Dive and the singing of the National Anthem by Amy Scruggs at 10:30 a.m.
A lunch at Post 416 starts at 11 a.m. and will conclude with Veteran’s Day tributes from Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Post Cmdr. Steve Lewandowski.
The American Legion San Dieguito Post 416 is at 210 F Street. Visit moonlightopen.org or calegionpost416.org for more information.