Local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter celebrates 100 years

The organization was founded on July 5, 1917.

The 185,000 members of Daughters of the American Revolution have a unified mission: to promote patriotism, preserve American history and educate today’s youth. Next month, the Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter will celebrate 100 years since its founding.

Daughters of the American Revolution is a non-profit, non-political, non-discriminatory organization made up entirely of women who descend from a patriot of the American Revolution. Any adult woman of this descent can join regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, making DAR one of the country’s most inclusive genealogical societies. The Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter is based in Moorestown, but members come from all over South Jersey.

“We are a society that is here for this country,” chapter regent Diane Martin Donnelly said, adding members never discuss politics with each other, even on a personal level.

After finding out through ancestry.com that she had a relative who served in the Revolutionary War, Cinnaminson resident Kellianne Mayer used DAR to dig deeper until she found her patriot. Mayer joined DAR in 2015 and now serves as the chapter’s secretary.

“The women in the DAR are just like one big family,” Mayer said. “You learn so much about history through all the women.”

The Moorestown chapter of DAR was renamed the Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter in 2009 when it merged with the Isaac Burroughs chapter that was founded in Camden.

The group recently held a luncheon to celebrate its upcoming anniversary, complete with members, local, state and national officers, prospective members, and what the daughters refer to as HODARS — husbands of Daughters of the American Revolution.

“I believe in this country. I believe we’ve done incredible things,” Donnelly, who has been involved with DAR for six years, said. “All in all, when you think of the world history, I just find that the United States is just incredible.”

There are more than 3,000 DAR members in New Jersey. Nationally, more than 950,000 members have been inducted to date. DAR has chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as international chapters in Mexico, Russia, Spain, Australia, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, France, Canada, Bermuda, Germany, Guam, Italy and Japan.

To keep with the inclusive feel of DAR, Donnelly says she allows anyone to attend the society’s meetings, even if they aren’t eligible to become a member.

“I wanted to be proud of my own heritage as well as show people how proud of this country I am and the good that it does,” Donnelly said.

Keeping in tune with its mission, DAR fundraising efforts often focus on youth and schools. The Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter often helps at the Vinelands Veterans Home, its most recent project being knitting blankets for the residents. The group also participates in food pantries and “any community service that is giving back to the community and giving back to our country,” according to Donnelly. Last year, the Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter adopted a 30-person platoon and supplied them year-round with toiletries and other necessities.

“The patriotism and the love of country [the group has] is just unbelievable and shows through all the volunteer work we do in the community,” Mayer said.

The society attends local events such as Moorestown Day to hand out patriotic literature and educate the public on how to properly dispose of flags. Donnelly says educating today’s youth on history is one of the group’s largest endeavors, and added every woman in her chapter will tell you it’s love of country and community that keeps them involved, along with the lifelong friendships built.

“We’re women that want to give back to our community,” Donnelly said. “We honor our country and we honor those that came before us.”

Those interested in joining Daughters of the American Revolution can visit www.dar.org. The DAR is able to assist in determining whether interested persons have a patriot ancestor. Meetings are held on Saturday afternoons six to eight times per year at the Evergreens in Moorestown. To learn more about the Moorestown — Isaac Burroughs chapter, visit http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njmibdar/.