Pleasanton service groups are joining together June 4 to host an old-fashioned pancake breakfast at Delucchi Park on First Street near the Farmers Market. There is no charge for the pancake feast but donations are encouraged to the Pleasanton Military Families Support Group, whose members will be collecting for packages they are assembling and mailing out the next day.
"The whole idea came from the VFW," said Pat Leary, who recently became a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 in Pleasanton. "It kind of exploded from there. Lots of folks got enthused and got involved with it."
Besides the VFW, the clubs involved are American Legion Post 237, Pleasanton Lions Club, Tri Valley Rotary, Pleasanton Military Families Support Group, Rotary Club of Pleasanton North and Pleasanton Boy Scouts.
These groups are used to fundraising and know how to get things done. All of the food has been donated, and the preparation and cooking duties have been assigned:
* VFW -- sausages
* Lions -- pancakes
* Tri-Valley Rotary -- orange juice
* North Pleasanton Rotary -- coffee
* American Legion -- donate plates, utensils, etc., and set up.
Boy Scouts will bus the tables. And the Pleasanton Military Families Support Group will be collecting items for their packout to arrive at bases in Afghanistan and Iraq in time for the Fourth of July. People also can give money to help with the $12.50 per box mailing.
"It's just getting hot there," noted Chairwoman Pat Frizzell. She suggested donating neck coolers of the kind that are dipped into water; she knows they aren't cheap but says even a contribution of one or two would help.
"They could use sunscreen, bug repellent -- nothing aerosol," she said. "They are really important when the summer weather comes."
They are also looking for small toiletries, baby wipes, foot powder, talcum powder, Cornhuskers lotion, lip balm, beef jerky and foil pouches of tuna and chicken. A complete list can be found at pleasantonmilitaryfamilies.org.
Frizzell's team has been shopping around for red, white and blue items to keep with the Fourth of July theme for the troops, including beach balls.
"We try to always include stuff that's fun," she said. "In the summertime we always send water balloons and squirt guns."
The next day the Military Families Support Group will be at the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street for the Fourth of July Packout, to assemble 250 packages to send to troops overseas.
"We move around, sort of like gypsies, we look for what's available," Frizzell said. "At Easter we were at the Masonic Lodge."
Another reason for the pancake breakfast is for folks to learn about the service groups in Pleasanton.
"We all wanted to let people know who we are," said Dave Hamm, pancake coordinator, who was just elected the incoming commander of VFW Post 6298.
"People know that the VFW, American Legion, Rotary, Lions exist but they don't know what we actually do," agreed Leary. "We are a service organization as well as a social club. I'm finding particularly that the Pleasanton post is active doing community things."
All of the clubs will have fliers and handouts explaining what their members do in the community.
"We're always surprised how many people don't know we're here," said Frizzell, adding that a woman had recently found out about them just as her son was finishing his tour of duty overseas.
"We're happy to have anybody who wants to join us. They don't have to have child in the military, so long as they support our military," Frizzell said. "We have a long email list to make them aware of homecomings, and we have a family support meeting monthly."
"We're really grateful that the service organizations came up with this idea to all come together and they've made Pleasanton Military Families the recipient of any monetary donations or materials," she added.
The American Legion Post 237 in Pleasanton currently has 168 members, said Adjutant Rich Ghera.
"We're always looking for more," he said.
VFW members have served overseas in foreign wars, while American Legion members, although they may have served overseas, were not in a designated war theater, Ghera explained.
"A lot of guys belong to both," he said.
The clubs work together to put flags and medallions on the grave of each veteran in the Pleasanton cemeteries on Sunol Avenue during the week of Memorial Day. They also attend the welcoming home ceremonies given to returning troops by the Pleasanton Military Families Support Group.
"We're always looking for new members," said Lions President Steve Grimes. "This year we have 16 new members; right now we're at about 54 members."
"We do a lot of community service," he added. They recently served the pancake breakfast at the Special Kids Day at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, which teams up experienced fishermen with the special needs children for a day of outdoor fun. And for years they've collected used eyeglasses at different spots around town, including the library.
"We put on a crab feed every year," Grimes said. "On Jan. 28, we had 1,250 at the Fairgrounds." They also serve pancakes to the hundreds of volunteers at the Alameda County Fairgrounds for the biannual East Bay Stand Down weekend for homeless military veterans.
The Lions were happy to lend their culinary skills to this newest community event, Grimes said.
"We want people to come out and enjoy themselves," he added. "If they can't donate, we want them to come out anyway."
"Everybody is really excited about this," Ghera said. "We saw this as an opportunity to help the Pleasanton Military Families."
Serving pancakes -- and the troops
What: Hometown Pancake Day
Where: Delucchi Park, First Street and Angela in Pleasanton
When: 7-11:30 a.m., Saturday, June 4
Who: Service groups in Pleasanton
Cost: Free but donations to the troops are encouraged. Pleasanton Military Families Support Group will have a collection booth.