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American Legion Auxiliary Crowns Monroe's First Poppy Princess

Jockey Hollow sixth grader Hayley Elizabeth Baron, 11, is Poppy Princess 2014.

Three generations of American Legion Auxiliary members, Eileen Kaplin, her granddaughter, Hayley Elizabeth Baron, and daughter, Shari Baron.
Three generations of American Legion Auxiliary members, Eileen Kaplin, her granddaughter, Hayley Elizabeth Baron, and daughter, Shari Baron.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 President Janet Marino crowned Monroe's first-ever Poppy Princess, junior member Hayley Elizabeth Baron, 11, during the Legion's Christmas party in the Banquet Room of Roberto's Restaurant Wednesday evening. Hayley's grandmother helped to put on her sash and the Jockey Hollow School sixth grader's mother placed the crown on her head to applause from the crowd of veterans and auxiliary members seated around tables.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this evening is unique and special," Marino said from the podium before making the historic announcement.

Marino touted Hayley's "selflessness", "dedication" and "sincere desire to support veterans and their families" as reasons for her being chosen as Poppy Princess for 2014.

"We're proud of Hayley and this will be a tradition for us moving forward," Marino said.

As part of her responsibilities, Hayley will ride in a car during the Memorial Day Parade and will hand out red poppies, symbolizing support of America's military veterans.

Three Generations

To become a junior member of the American Legion Auxiliary, one must have at least one war veteran or auxiliary member in her bloodline.

Helen Goewey, president of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Connecticut, said, "We're the largest patriotic women's organization in the nation. We're mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters — any female with a direct lineage."

Both Hayley's mother, Shari Baron, and grandmother, Eileen Kaplin (whose husband Stanley served with occupation forces in Korea during WWII) are American Legion Auxiliary members.

Of her daughter being crowned Poppy Princess 2014, Shari Baron said, "I just think it's great. She likes helping people. She likes volunteering."

Just last week, Hayley joined her mother and grandmother, volunteering at the veterans hospital in West Haven, unpacking boxes and setting up the gift shop there. She also distributed poppies.

Baron said, "She gave up a Christmas Tree tailgate to go."

Hayley said, "I thought I'd help out the veterans, because I've done other volunteer work and think it's a worthy cause."

The sixth grader is an honors student at Jockey Hollow and plays travel softball with the team, Xtreme Chaos.

Shari and Lloyd Baron's son, Joseph, 22, is also involved with the Legion, coaching a junior baseball team in town.

Helping Vets, Having Fun

Goewey is happy to see involvement in the American Legion Auxiliary from young people like Hayley.

"It shows that they're engaging their youth in the programs for the auxiliary," she said of Unit 176, "and it's really great that they do that."

Marino invited Goewey to this year's Christmas party.

"This is my first time here at this holiday party," Goewey said. "I'm really, really impressed, not only with what Monroe does as a unit for the veterans, but they take time to have fun."
Gerald M. Gaynor December 12, 2013 at 06:40 AM
One has to wonder how many of our sixth graders are even taught the significance of the poppy to our veterans.

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