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VFW Auxiliary effort recognized in Education Minnesota commercial

FULDA -- For the past 40 years, members of VFW Post 9017 Auxiliary have been actively involved in the Fulda Public Schools, working with teachers to instill patriotism among students.

Their long-standing effort was recently recognized when first they received the Friends of Education award from Fulda Education Association and then were filmed for an Education Minnesota commercial.

Nominated by kindergarten teacher Jeannette Sleeper, auxiliary members were unaware of the nomination for Friends of Education until they won the award, auxiliary president Sophia Hein said.

News of the award reached Education Minnesota members through Worthington teacher Rodney Rowe, and soon a film crew was in Fulda shooting a commercial, first grader teacher Linda Beerman said.

"We didn't know we were going to be on TV," Hein added.

The commercial, which serves as advertisement for Education Minnesota, started airing Tuesday on major Minnesota news networks KSTP, KARE, WCCO and KMSP and will be aired for four weeks.

Filming the commercial was split into two days.

"On the first day we gave a talk on the folding of the flag -- what each fold meant -- and also holding your hand to your heart," explained auxiliary treasurer Betty Czepa.

The following day, VFW Auxiliary members and Fulda elementary students, accompanied by Principal Gregg Slaathaug, reenacted a presentation of the American flag.

A common practice for the auxiliary group is presenting a new flag "whenever the flag is kind of worn" Hein added.

"When I presented the flag, I looked at the little children and I almost got emotional," she said. "There were those little innocent faces who were so in awe of the flag."

Auxiliary members are in and out of the elementary school throughout the year working on various patriotism projects, from handing out etiquette guides and miniature American flags to helping with the school's annual Veteran's day program.

The effort to instill a love for their country among the younger generation, Czepa said, depends on the support of teachers and school administration.

"(The VFW Auxiliary) does a lot of wonderful things -- they are a service group," Beerman said. "If I had to pick one thing that sticks out in my mind, it would be the flag presentation."

In his 12 years of teaching at Fulda Elementary, Slaathaug calls the women's presence "awesome."

"They're there at the drop of the hat and always there to help," he said.