The Lansdale Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 32 on West Second Street in Lansdale is, to many, a gathering place for heroes: Four of them are Pearl Harbor vets, most of them are Vietnam vets, the newest are Iraq vets.
Lansdale Police Department on Vine Street in Lansdale is, to many, also a gathering place of heroes: Major crime had reduced more than 30 percent in 2010 alone.
Heroes honored heroes Tuesday when the Lansdale VFW gave $5,000 to Lansdale Police to enhance its safety equipment. It was the first-ever donation from the VFW to the police department.
"They're there for us 24/7," said Post Commander Stan Levinsky. "We wanted to give something to them."
Levinsky, an employee of Yocum Ford, said the donations came from Lansdale VFW fundraisers and donations.
"We have benefits and we ask to donate a poriton of revenue to them," Levinsky said.
Benefits include a beef and beer and a meat wheel — donors put money down to win a big hunk of ham or a whole turkey.
Levinsky said ticket sales are a major part of revenue for the VFW. Tickets, he said, are small games of chance.
Revenues also come from dues from regular members and social members.
"Membership has increased since (former post commander and social manager) Gordon (Boe) and I took over," Levinsky said. "Now, people are coming back from Iraq, and they look at it as a place that is good to join."
The Lansdale VFW boasts 300 social members and 220 regular members.
Regular members pay around $25 a year, Levinsky said, while social members pay $10 a year. A social member must be sponsored by a regular member.
The VFW also has a Ladies Auxiliary
Lansdale VFW reaches out to the community in other ways as well. It sponsors a Lansdale Little League team and it recently donated $2,000 to the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation.
"We help the community out," Levinsky said, simply. "That's a good thing."
Lansdale Police Sgt. Alex Kromdyk told Levinsky the department has asked its sergeants and officers to give ideas on what they need the most to get their job done.
Chief Robert McDyre said the money would most likely go toward safety enhancements: bullet-resistant shields, new Tasers, rescue tools and standard raid vests.
"I think it's fantastic," said Councilman Mike Sobel, who chairs the public safety committee. "These guys need all the support they can get. It's nice to see the VFW reach out to help those that help us."
Donations are a rarity at Lansdale Police; McDyre said they are "far and few between." In the past, there have been donations in the few thousands for police programs.
"We get seniors coming in and giving $25," said Kromdyk.
The Lansdale VFW is considered "The House Mike Schafte Built." Its walls feature artifacts from local soldiers, and it's not uncommon to find members laughing at the bar, hanging out in the social hall or shooting pool.
Schafte was a well-known citizen, veteran and board member who made the VFW — physically and socially — into what it is today. He died June 27 at age 68. A memorial for Schafte is in the works at Lansdale VFW.
The Lansdale VFW board meets in a regular-members-only meeting the second Sunday of each month at 11 a.m. at the VFW, located at 43 W. Second St.