OTTAWA — At age 12, Emmeline Phillips got an up-close look at what sadness and despair looks like, but then she got to be part of adding a little joy.
While attending the American Legion Auxiliary National Junior Meeting in Indianapolis, Emmeline visited a homeless shelter for veterans. The youth played volleyball and other games with the veterans.
“We got to bring joy to someone’s life who does not have a home or much family,” said Emmeline, who is home-schooled. “I did not realize how many veterans were homeless. It was a little sad, but joyful to be able to have fun with them.”
Emmeline went to the meeting with her grandmother, Colleen Phillips, who is active with the American Legion Auxiliary. The two are already plotting to get to next year’s meeting in Houston, Texas.
Emmeline was immediately interested in this year’s three-day meeting.
“I was really excited,” she said. “I knew that juniors from all over would come. It was fun to meet new people.”
The youth also put together “Family Packs.” A new version of Hero Packs sent to military personnel serving overseas, the Family Packs of toys and games are sent to children of men and women away from home. They also include personal notes, Emmeline’s telling them to “keep their hearts up, stay happy and pray for their family member.”
“The packs are so they have something to do and aren’t sad,” she said.
The youth also brainstormed on groups or programs participants could take back to their schools to assist students whose loved ones are away serving the country.
The meeting also gave Emmeline the chance to be part of the voting public. Those attending elected an honorary president, vice president, chaplain and historian. Emmeline voted for her new friends, and a couple of them won election.
Emmeline and her family attend Harvest Fellowship Church in Hamler. Being too old to participate in this year’s Christmas program, she is helping out. She also helps with the children’s Bible class her parents run at church.
Emmeline spent the past few years showing rabbits with the O-G Prize Winners 4-H Club. She tried goats last year, but says once was enough. She also took a shooting project to the fair, which sparked her interest. Emmeline will join a shooting 4-H club next year.
“The last day of shooting last year, I shot a shotgun and it was really fun,” she said. “It was not as hard as I thought it would be.”
Emmeline, who is also involved in the Putnam County Children’s Theater, wants to be an archaeologist one day. Her interest started after a school lesson on Egypt.
“I have a stack of books in my room about Egypt,” she said.