Tradition of giving

American Legion continues Clothe-A-Child program after founder’s death

For nearly 20 years, his mission was to find out what Greenwood children needed and get it for them.

Ed Thompson, a member and later commander of the Greenwood American Legion, would talk to school counselors about the need in their schools, including clothes for school, hats for winter and even toys for Christmas.

Then, he asked for donations from banks and rolled in donations from American Legion members to help dozens of children get $100 each in clothes and even a few toys.

Thompson died in September, and American Legion members want to make sure that the program he started to help the neediest in Greenwood continues, post commander Ken Hall said.

“Ed and his wife had a big spot in their hearts for kids,” Hall said.

Thompson was a Navy veteran who grew up with five siblings in Kentucky, his wife Lynn Thompson said.

After he moved to Greenwood, he saw the need in the community and he wanted to help, she said.

So he started Clothe-A-Child and kept the program going for almost two decades, she said.

“He was a very giving person in a lot of ways. He helped veterans, he helped children, he was interested in doing good in general,” Lynn Thompson said.

Every year, Ed Thompson worked to collect the thousands of dollars needed to help clothe the children of Greenwood.

When they would do their shopping around Christmas, he would have JCPenney open an hour early for the children to shop. He would call each of the dozens of families personally to tell them that the American Legion wanted to help, Lynn Thompson said.

And Ed always wanted to be at the door to see how the children reacted to their gift, she said.

“Ed always met them at the door, told him who he was and introduced himself,” she said. “They were all just so glad to have the extra help.”

When Thompson died, American Legion members wanted to make sure that the program he started would continue, Hall said.

“We know it will be here long past when some of us (leave),” he said.

This past Christmas, businesses and members donated enough money for 36 families to go shopping right before the holidays. One dollar of member’s dues went directly to the program, and the American Legion solicited donations from area businesses.

Part of the appeal of keeping the program going is showing that the American Legion is a service organization that seeks to not only help veterans, but to help the communities where they reside, said Mike Arthur, finance officer at the post.

“It’s just a good thing to do,” he said.

At a glance

Want to donate to the Greenwood American Legion Clothe-A-Child program?

Mail a check with “Clothe-A-Child” in the subject line to 334 U.S. 31, Greenwood, IN 46142.

Call the post at 317-881-1752.

E-mail akennethhall@sbcglobal.net

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.