The chill in the air on December 2nd was no competition for the warmth in the hearts of all who participated in the fundraising, shopping, and wrapping of gifts for the veterans at the Northport VA Medical Center. The request made by the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary to “Make the Holidays Brighter for Our Veterans” was answered overwhelmingly by our youth, our community, and our friends. Thanks to the Manhasset Press for spreading the word, not once but twice.
Two of our Boy Scouts, Matthew Moschitta and Steven Murphy, volunteered to serve as liaisons to Raindew. They were met with enthusiastic support from the store’s managers who permitted the Scouts to set up a table and encourage Raindew’s patrons to donate to the support effort for our veterans. Matt and Steven scheduled Boy Scouts for the table throughout the day and received very generous donations from shoppers. Raindew has always been an energetic supporter of veteran causes presented to them by the American Legion Auxiliary. The kind cooperation and support shown by Raindew’s owners and the many discounts applied to purchases for our veterans are very much appreciated.
Kaitlyn Clarke rallied her Girl Scout Troop and joined the boys at Raindew. Kaitlyn also approached the management of Modell’s and was successful in obtaining discount coupons that were good for a month of shopping. Five percent of the purchases are being returned to the American Legion Auxiliary and will be used for additional items for veterans.
Daniel Cataldo, also a Boy Scout, served as the lead in advertising the event throughout town. His announcements appeared in stores, his posters outside American Legion Post 304 explained the “Wish List,” and his flyers were distributed to shoppers at Raindew.
Jacqueline Siffer, a Manhasset High School senior and an Empire Girls State citizen from the American Legion Auxiliary, approached some faculty members and received support from the French and Social Studies Honor Societies as well as from the Advanced Placement classes.
While collections were being made at Raindew, donors also stopped by the American Legion Post with items and monetary gifts. Care to Knit donated 58 handmade blankets and the Columbiettes of St. Mary’s donated 50 handmade Christmas trees for veterans’ rooms. Because of a prior donation from the Columbiettes, the American Legion Auxiliary was able to purchase additional “Wish List” items – two DVD players and a CD player to be used in the dementia clinics. Thank you to PC Richard for their welcome discount. The Al & Peggy DeMatteis Foundation donated $200 and the Ace in the Hole Foundation donated $500, both of which enabled the purchase of additional items for the gift bags. Members of the Manhasset community dropped off hundreds of items and made generous monetary donations.
A great deal of sorting and wrapping was also taking place at the American Legion Post. Led by Pat O’Brien and Elizabeth Parrella, the President and Vice President of the American Legion Auxiliary, many elves insured that the gifts received would be beautiful holiday surprises for the veterans. Manhasset Girl Scouts and Herricks Daisy Troop 1605 donated homemade cards. Reindeer previously made by our youthful volunteers were placed as decorations on the gift bags, hours were spent making and writing cards, and two days were spent wrapping the gifts. In between, Umberto’s of Manhasset provided relief by graciously supplying pizzas for the many volunteers.
By nightfall on December 3rd, 204 individual gift bags had been created for our veterans. In addition, there were numerous bags of decorations, CDs, DVRs, and miscellaneous items for Northport. On December 6th a caravan of SUVs, with very little space for anything other than the driver, made its way to the Northport VA Medical Center driven by Linda and Martin Clarke, Pat and Donald O’Brien, and Oona Walter. The reception was amazing. Donations for the veterans were down this year because of the many natural disasters throughout the country. The fear was that there would not be enough gifts for those at the VA. That fear was allayed when the SUVs appeared filled with gifts.
The generosity and patriotism that exist within the Manhasset community and among our friends seem to know no bounds. The wholehearted embrace of this effort serves as a wonderful lesson to our children of the importance of giving back to those who served our country. There are no words that would adequately express the gratitude that the American Legion Auxiliary has for those who gave so much this year to those who sacrificed for our freedoms. Perhaps the words of the Santa who delivered the gifts from the Manhasset community and its friends can best sum it up. When he returned to the Office of the Chief of Voluntary Services, Santa said, “Today we put a smile on the face of every veteran living at the Northport VA Medical Center.” What a beautiful way to end 2017!
Cards by Girl Scouts and Daisies
Collection at Raindew
So much to sort, wrap and write
So many workers
So many gifts
God Bless America and our Veterans