For the fifth straight year, the Kraus-Hartig VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary received national recognition as an Outstanding Community Service Post.
Commander Don LaCroix and Ladies Auxiliary President Char Guse traveled to Louisville, Ky., in late July to accept the award, one of 68 given across the U.S. this year.
Specific criteria to be named an Outstanding Community Service Post is set at the state level. The total number of hours worked, number of volunteers and dollar-value of donated time and materials are all considered.
Each month, Guse fills out a detailed community activity report, tracking Kraus-Hartig’s work in the area.
The post racked up 97,011 volunteer hours last year – more than 11 years’ time in one program year.
“It’s all about taking care of veterans and their families, and that’s something we’re really good at here,” LaCroix said.
One of the more generous services the post provides is free use of the post home. Between 50 and 100 community groups use the venue at 8100 Pleasant View Dr. NE, Spring Lake Park, in an average month, from the Boy Scouts to community cribbage clubs.
Volunteers visit veterans in hospitals and long-term care facilities, deliver Meals on Wheels, provide lawn care for elderly neighbors and more.
Presenting flags and donating blood are also major efforts of the post.
Kraus-Hartig offers scholarships to middle and high school students annually through the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy competitions.
The post boasts 757 members and some months, the community activity report cites more volunteers than members with non-member family and friends volunteering alongside their loved ones.
“Spring Lake Park is not a very big city when you look at a map, but we’ve got some very active people,” Guse said.
Her personal motivation to give freely comes from family. “My father was a veteran and he volunteered a lot and instilled that in me,” Guse said.
Both LaCroix and Guse said the post has potential to keep winning awards.
“We’re going to try our darndest, but it’s a lot of work,” Guse said.
Olivia Koester is at