June 27, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 10

Raising funds to honor nation's veterans

Cheney’s MacKenna Jones has an ambitious goal to earn her Gold Award for Girl Scouts.

Jones decided to honor our nation’s veterans with a Fallen Soldier statue that will be placed at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake. But to make the project a reality, she needs fundraising help to purchase the statue. To date, she is halfway to her $8,000 goal, pushing for a Sept. 21 ceremony where it will be unveiled at the cemetery.

The idea for the statue all started when Jones received her Silver Award, the second-highest award in Girl Scouts.

“It was also about veterans,” she said. “I grew up around veterans and my dad is one, too. He served in the Navy for 27 years. We also recently lost a friend of ours from church who was a Pearl Harbor survivor.”

Looking at other Gold Award projects, Jones saw an opportunity to honor the sacrifices and honor the service of the country’s veterans. Most projects were directed to help children, the elderly or pets.

“I think there was something missing,” she said, when taking in the subject matter of other projects.

The cost of the statue is $5,000, which doesn’t include its pedestal. The statue sits on top of a granite pedestal which, when including the decorations, is required for its display at the cemetery.

Girl Scouts approved the project in late August last year, however it isn’t sanctioned as a 501(c)(3) non-profit venture. That has impeded Jones’ ability to seek funds from larger companies in the area.

That hasn’t stopped plenty of local organizations from lending some help, including Jones’ church on Fairchild Air Force Base. Contribution buckets are also located at various businesses in the West Plains and Spokane area, helping to reach out to a wide pool of potential funding.

Jones’ father, Mike, is happy to see his daughter pursue a way to honor veterans.

“I think it’s a very worthy project,” he said.

Mike contributed some of his construction background to the project, developing a mock design of the statue to help with presentations around the area. He also helped ensure the materials used in the project are of the highest quality.

“This structure will last indefinitely,” he said. “The bronze is good quality bronze; it’s quite thick. So, it’ll withstand the weather for hundreds of years without deteriorating.”

Jones was one of two Cheney High School girls selected to attend the Girls State program in Ellensburg, Wash., which is run by the American Legion. The program creates a mock political environment simulating the different branches of government and having students run their own election campaign for different positions in the mock government.

She is also in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets program, which is a youth program similar to the Air Force’s Junior ROTC program.

In addition, Jones is a marching band member and volunteers time with the Special Olympics, with whom she has helped at the state competition.

“It’s fun when you actually go to the state competitions,” she said. “You meet all of these adults and they’re all really sweet. I enjoy working with them.”

Although the route to earn her Gold Award has been an arduous one, Jones said she’d do it again in a heartbeat, and appreciates the community support throughout the project’s development.

“Anything is possible. You just have to work hard and try your best,” she said.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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