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Minnesota National Guard
Hugo Yellow Ribbon Network Celebrates Five Years

Hugo YR network HUGO, Minn- The city of Hugo celebrated its fifth anniversary as a Yellow Ribbon community at their city council meeting, Dec15 The Minnesota National Guard's, Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard C Nash, and Director of Military Outreach, Annette Kuyper, were on hand to say thank you to Hugo and its Yellow Ribbon Network volunteers

"This city has changed how citizens can come together to support, honor and recognize veterans, Service members and their families," said Nash "I especially commend Chuck Haas for all he has done to lead these efforts in your community"

Hugo Yellow Ribbon network Chairman Chuck Haas, a retired business owner, proud grandfather of six and a member of the Hugo city council since 1998 has been part of the Hugo program since the beginning

"I got started with the Yellow Ribbon Network in 2009 when one of our county commissioners, Navy veteran Gary Kriesel, mentioned the program to me," said Haas "Hugo got started right away in the summer of 2009 and had a kickoff meeting here that was attended by over 100 residents"

Since then the Hugo Yellow Ribbon network, consisting of more than 250 volunteers, has done hundreds of events supporting veterans, Service members and families

According to Haas that support may be a ride to the VA, snowplowing, household repairs, car repairs, or any of the myriad of "life events" that occur when a spouse is deployed and some assistance is needed

"Whenever I post a need for help for a military family there is always overwhelming response: swift and positive," said Haas "Whether the need is small (ride to the VA) or large (to donate car repairs or in one case the gift of a car itself) our fantastic network volunteers have always answered the call; in fact, I often spend quite a bit of time thanking the second, third, and fourth person who offered help"

"From sending care packages to assisting a military family after an apartment fire, in addition to the very successful Hamburger Nights, your volunteers, Blue Star Mothers and business partners have truly demonstrated what a community can do to show their appreciation and support," said Nash during the anniversary celebration

The Hamburger Night is just one of Hugo's three signature events

The "Welcome Home the Troops" pheasant hunts are held in cooperation with the Yellow Ribbon Network of Stillwater and the Wild Wings Hunt Club Since 2010 they have held eight hunts and welcomed home nearly 800 military members with a guided pheasant hunt, round of sporting clays, and a wild game dinner This year they welcomed home members from the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company, the 114th Transportation Company, and the 109th Airlift Squadron

The second signature event is sending care packages to the units who are deployed Their recent November event sent over 3,000 pounds of wish list items to the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, the 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Sailors on the USS Cole and Soldiers deployed to the Horn of Africa They began sending packages in 2010 but started keeping records since July of 2012 Since then the Hugo network has shipped over 700 packages containing more than 14,000 pounds of wish list items along with messages of thanks and support

The third signature event is their monthly Hamburger Night at the Hugo American Legion "Originally it began as a network fundraiser and has grown into so much more," said Haas "Each month somewhere between 125 and 200 people attend to support the network's mission, have fun, and enjoy a great burger In addition to the support from the entire community, local area businesses and civic groups join the fun and we have a business sponsor each month"

"We shamelessly encourage competition among our business sponsors for the coveted Burger Night Sponsor of the Year Award," said Haas "Recent winners have brought in over 300 guests to Burger Night Business and civic group support is so robust that there is at least a six month waiting list to become a Burger Night Sponsor"

Haas continued to explain that the enormous popularity of Burger Night has spread the Network's message that military members are still deployed overseas, many in harm's way, and helps focus the attention of the entire community on the need to continue support for military members and their families

During the anniversary celebration, Nash and Haas presented certificates of appreciation and Yellow Ribbon challenge coins to this year's Hamburger Night sponsors Nash and Haas also presented the Hamburger Night Sponsor of the Year 2014 plaque to Wilson Tool and its employees

Certificates and coins were also presented to the Hugo American Legion and Centennial Hockey Association for their support The Legion provides the venue for Hamburger Nights and the Centennial Hockey donates heavily to support the Yellow Ribbon Network

"With the continued deployment of our National Guard units in support of our regular armed forces in overseas missions, the need for support for our local heroes and she-roes and their families will continue to be necessary and every community should get involved and try to "make a difference," said Haas

December 15, 2014
by Staff Sgt Johnny Angelo
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs



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