SIOUX CENTER—Iowa and South Dakota residents have a new opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism.
Aaron Van Beek, the president and director of the Sioux Center-based Midwest Honor Flight, has created a decal for Iowa and South Dakota residents to put on their license plates to spread awareness for the organization and support veterans.
The Midwest Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization enabling veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C., for free. Each flight costs $150,000. The money to have the flight comes from donations to the organization.
“That’s what we end up fundraising for,” Van Beek said. “Part of that, the guardians come up with. Sometimes it’s family, sometimes it’s not, but the guardians are committed and they go through a training process to make sure these veterans have a safe flight out to D.C. and that we get them back home safe. Our organization is 100 percent volunteer, so everything we do for fundraising and grants and donations that come in, all of that goes directly to those flights to get those vets out there. That’s our way of giving back to those that served during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam.
“This is just another opportunity for people to help us fundraise for that mission and also show their support to it.”
His vision behind the license plate decals came from other groups in the area.
“I had actually seen other organizations in Iowa that have had this,” Van Beek said. “All of the colleges have a special plate made up, which is kind of something that gave me the idea to look into a little bit more too, but thankfully, the state of Iowa and state of South Dakota have both passed legislation that where it’s just a plate and a decal goes on it.”
He said everyone has the chance to get a pair of these decals.
“It’s not just veterans that can have these stickers,” Van Beek said. “Anybody that has the approved DOT decal plates, whether that be in Iowa or South Dakota, can get those decals through us and add those to their plates as long as they are the approved decal plate. We don’t have any members per se. You don’t have to have flown on a flight, you don’t have to have been a veteran. Anybody and everybody that wants to support and showcase our organization can put that decal on their approved plates.”
When customers make the purchase through the organization’s website, they will receive two decals for each license plate on their vehicle. A pair of decals cost $25.
Van Beek said 10 of the decals have been sold in Iowa and the first one in South Dakota was sold on Wednesday.
For the Midwest Honor Flight organization, having a decal like this is just another way to create more opportunities.
“From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen at different nonprofits I’ve been able to talk to, branding is everything,” Van Beek said. “If we can get our brand out there more and people might say ‘Oh, Midwest Honor Flight, I wonder what that is,’ that brings them to our website, that helps raise that awareness, that helps get more veterans signed up, that helps get more donations that may then in the future provide more partnerships for fundraising and grants too. On a license plate, that’s kind of a special deal to have too, so, we were pretty excited to be approved for both Iowa and South Dakota in that regard.”