American Legion Riders warm Hannibal elementary students through a day of giving

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Riders from American Legion Post 55 shake hands and exchange fist bumps with Stowell Elementary students. Each Hannibal students from pre-K to fifth grade received a hat and a pair of gloves collected by the riders. | Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. –  Students from the Hannibal School District went home extra warm over the weekend.

Members of the American Legion Riders of Post 55 in Hannibal kicked off a day of giving at Stowell Elementary’s Friday morning assembly by passing out several of the nearly 1,800 pairs of gloves and hats they collected for each child in the district from pre-K to fifth grade.

American Legion member Steve Gumble, known to his friends and family as “Gumbie,” said he discovered 92 percent of children at Stowell and Eugene Field Elementary were on free and reduced lunches.   

“That means in a school of 200, only 18 kids can afford to buy lunch,” Gumble said. 

He also mentioned around 68 percent of approximately 400 students at Veterans Elementary are also on free and reduced lunches.

Gumble said the riders knew they couldn’t pay for everyone’s lunches, but they wanted to do something. They began raising money to buy hats and gloves for students around the district.

The fundraising efforts began around April with community donations. They hosted a poker run in May, with proceeds going to the hat and gloves fund. Gumble also participated in an Iron Butt Challenge, riding 1,000 miles in 24 hours with a sponsorship of $800.

“I am so proud of these riders. They stepped up and made it happen, and the city of Hannibal helped out with it,” Gumble said. “These people did something spectacular here today.”

Principal at Stowell Elementary Corey Bennett introduced the American Legion riders to the students. 

“Kids, you might not know them very well yet, but they sure love you. They have so much to offer us. They’ve served our country, and they’re heroes for us,” he said. “They’re also heroes for us this year in particular. They have brought a gift for every single elementary kid in the Hannibal School District, and they are starting with us.”

The congregation of students, teachers, and staff stood with the American Legion Riders and sang the National Anthem and the pledge of allegiance.

“It’s a day that I’m just very proud to be a member of the Hannibal schools community. I’m proud to be a Hannibal citizen, and I’m proud to work with all of our American Legion riders and all of the grown-ups who care for our kids in this town,” Bennett said.

Gumble said they plan to make this an annual gift for kids in the district and perhaps extend it to other districts as the initiative grows. 

“I keep telling people who donated generously that we don’t want to set the world on fire. We just want to make one kid a little warmer today,” he said.

To participate in the hat and glove collection for next year, text Gumble at 573-406-8975.

Stowell students of the month were also announced at the assembly:

  • Cora Bramblette, kindergarten
  • Braxton Rodgers, kindergarten
  • Gary Williams, first grade
  • MaRyah Shaffer, first grade
  • Willy Johnson, first grade
  • Penelope Lee, third grade

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