Support for our Medal of Honor Recipients

Janine Stange, known as the “National Anthem Girl” because she completed her goal of singing our nation’s National Anthem in all 50 states, requested our assistance again to flood the living Medal of Honor Recipients with cards and letters when they attend a luncheon in their honor in March.  Our Unit participated in honoring the 75 recipients last year and was proud to do it again.  Unfortunately, the number is now at 71.  Our Unit sought the assistance of the local Boy and Girl Scouts, a Daisy Troop, the high school students and a nursery school class and sent them 132 handmade cards and letters, 3 signed Boy Scout troop hats and 3 plaques for the 3 heroes we were given to honor.  Pictures have started to appear on Facebook under Janine Stange.  More will follow.  Following the luncheon, Janine Stange sent us two signed photos with a thank you message for our participation.  One hangs in the American Legion Hall and the other was presented to the nursery school class who also received an American Legion Auxiliary Certificate of Appreciation and American Flags.  They have proudly displayed these outside their classroom for all to see.

   

     

           

    

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Poppy Posters and Wreath

As Memorial Day approaches our young members and friends prepared by creating beautiful posters and a wonderful wreath using the Poppy as a theme.  Many thanks to Kaitlyn, Kelly and Martin Clarke for their posters and to Madison and Paige Governale for their wreath.  All were entered into a contest sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Department of New York.

 

 

 

 

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Empire Girls State Orientation

The selected citizens for Empire Girls State from Nassau County attended an orientation on April 28th conducted by MaryAnn Busa, President of the Nassau County Committee of the American Legion Auxiliary, Sonja Neal, Empire Girls State Chairperson for the Nassau County Committee of the American Legion Auxiliary, and Jennifer and Mary Farley from the American Legion Auxiliary Department of New York.  The young women attended with their parents to learn about the details of the program.  They also spent time getting to know each other as they prepare for their trip to Empire Girls State on July 1.  Manhasset Unit 304 was proud to host the orientation.

Empire Girls State citizens with Mary Farley, MaryAnn Busa and Sonja Neal.

Elizabeth Parrella and Pat O’Brien with some of Manhasset’s citizens.

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Congratulations, Eagle Scout Jason Cuomo

On April 14th, President Pat O’Brien and Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Parrella attended the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Jason Cuomo and presented him with a Certificate and gift from Unit 304.  Jason chose the Veterans History Project to enable him to become an Eagle Scout.  As the result of his work and that of those who assisted him, the stories of some of our living Veterans who so bravely served our country will be forever preserved in our nation’s Library of Congress.

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St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Unit 304 hosted its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, March 3rd.  Much of the town was still recuperating from Friday’s storm and some were still without heat and electricity.  Those who attended enjoyed the festivities including Irish music, a catered dinner, ample refreshments, and homemade desserts.  Thank you to everyone who supported the event.

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Thank You Care to Knit

On Wednesday, January 3, Ines Basso Glick , the Founder and Executive Director of Care to Knit, served as Guest Speaker at the monthly meeting of Manhasset American Legion Post 304.  Care to Knit has been a long-time friend of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.   For the past several years, Care to Knit members have knit and crocheted hundreds of beautiful blankets for our veterans at both the Northport and Bronx VA Medical Centers.  In addition, they have donated their handmade blankets to donors and recipients of organ transplants, a tradition they began at the Northport VA Medical Center.  They also knit baby hats and booties for hospitals and shelters.  What was once a small local organization has grown into a very generous national group.

In recognition of their great work, Commander Peter Killian presented Ines Glick with a donation to assist Care to Knit in carrying out its work.  Elizabeth Parrella, Vice President and Treasurer of the American Legion Auxiliary, presented Ms. Glick with a Certificate of Appreciation for their assistance to our veterans.  Ms. Glick also made a presentation, a red, white and blue blanket commemorating all the love that has gone into their work supporting our men and women who have served our nation.

Commander Peter Killian presents donation to Ines Basso Glick

Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella, presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Ines Basso Glick

 

Ines presents a red, white and blue blanket to Elizabeth and Peter

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Thank You for Making the Holidays Brighter for Our Veterans

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

  

Delivery Day

                          

God Bless America and our Veterans

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Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America was a spectacular event this year that started long before Saturday, December 16.  Harry Rathsam has been the Volunteer Coordinator for Long Island National Cemetery since the beginning of the program in 2006.  It happened quite accidentally when he called for more information about Wreaths Across America which was scheduled to take place in five days.  He was told that there was no one responsible for one of the largest veterans’ cemeteries in the country.  Harry stepped up and grew the program from that day.

In 2006 about 20 people gathered to place 5 wreaths on the graves of some of our nation’s heroes.  When the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary began to participate, the number of wreaths had grown to about 125 with about 75 participants.  Gradually, the numbers began to increase and more groups, including Manhasset’s Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, participated.  Last year, in icy and rainy weather, approximately 200 participants placed 3,000 wreaths.  Harry then set a goal of 5,000 wreaths for 2017.  This sounds like a tremendous number until you research the size of Long Island National and realize that it contains approximately 340,000 grave sites.  After he set this goal, Harry was approached by the Wreaths Across America organization and was interviewed by a staff member on the 72nd day before Wreaths Across America 2017.  His interview can be seen on Facebook.

Following the interview, wonderful things began to happen.  By December 8th more than 450 volunteers were registered to help at Wreaths Across America on December 16th.  Then Harry received information that more than 25,000 wreaths were scheduled for Long Island National Cemetery.  Amazingly, this number changed on December 15th, the day before the event.  There were 45,000 wreaths arriving at Long Island National Cemetery!  In addition, a banquet was planned for that evening at the Long Island Marriott.  Pat O’Brien and Elizabeth Parrella, the President and Vice President of the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary, along with American Legion member, Donald O’Brien, were privileged to attend.  A representative of Wreaths Across America served as the emcee for the evening and introduced some of the many corporations and trucking companies that so generously volunteer to assist in the distribution of wreaths.  The professional drivers scheduled for the following morning also attended.  The keynote speaker was General Raymond Fox and other speakers included a Gold Star Mother, Emily Torres, who said she would gladly tell us about her son, if you asked how he lived, not how he died.  Active military personnel were also in attendance.  One thing that was very clear throughout the evening was that those present proudly lived this year’s Wreaths Across America theme, “I’m an American.  Yes, I am!”

The next morning temperatures hovered around the freezing mark but did not stop the enthusiasm of the approximately 800 volunteers who came to honor some of the nation’s heroes.  Cheers arose among the crowd as the nine tractor trailers entered the cemetery with the wreaths.  In that crowd were Pat and Donald O’Brien, Elizabeth Parrella, Carol-Anne Condon and parents of Boy Scouts from Troop 97, Ann Marie Moschitta, Linda and Martin Clarke, Elizabeth Miller, Selva Venkatesan, Anja D’Angelo and Michael Dea.  They brought their sons, Matthew, Martin, Steven, Sharath, Bharath, James, and Andrew to teach them about remembering and honoring those who have served in the military and, in too many instances, have died for the freedoms so often taken for granted.

At noon Harry Rathsam conducted the service and again reminded everyone of the importance of remembering our fallen U.S. veterans, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children the value of freedom.  Harry again quoted President Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”  He also reminded everyone to speak the name of the veteran when placing a wreath at a grave-site.  He mentioned a basic tenet of Wreaths Across America, “A person dies twice: once when they take their final breath, and later, the last time their name is spoken.”  As is the custom, those attending were given the opportunity to share the name of those who had served or were serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Then the privilege of emptying the trucks and laying the wreaths began.  Each wreath was marked with a tag reading, “Today I placed a wreath on the grave of an American Hero.”  While walking through the cemetery, the names of those heroes who served could be heard clearly as the volunteers remembered them before placing a wreath.  Two such heroes were Andrew A. Nudge, Jr. and Rexford Lloyd Green, both of whom had been killed in action during World War II.  Their names appear on the WW II website, so they will be remembered.  Many others are only remembered through the placing of a wreath.

By 2:30 pm all the wreaths had been placed and the trucks were back on the road along with the many volunteers who had so enthusiastically participated in what is always a very emotional event.  But 45,000 wreaths are only enough to honor less than 15 percent of the veterans at Long Island National Cemetery.  Please help make 2018 an even bigger event by your presence and your wreath donations.  To learn more about Wreaths Across America or to become a donor, visit the website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/.  For information about other programs supported by the American Legion Auxiliary, please contact Pat O’Brien at 516-850-5702 or patobrien17@msn.com.

    

President Pat O’Brien, Vice President and Treasurer Elizabeth Parrella and Legionnaire Donald O’Brien attended the Wreaths Across America Dinner

The Boy Scouts joined the American Legion Auxiliary at Wreaths Across America

Pat and Donald O’Brien and Pat O’Brien and Carol-Anne Condon

Before

Elizabeth emptied trucks

Martin carried wreaths for placement

   

Liz and Steven place a wreath

 

                                                                       After

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Holiday Luncheon

Members of the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary were joined by several friends at the annual holiday luncheon on December 15th at the Jolly Fisherman in Roslyn.  Members donated mittens, scarves and hats to the children of veterans at the Northport VA Medical Center.  All were purchased in advance by Anne Hedberg, our Corresponding Secretary, and packaged for the children.  The Columbiettes also had available their beautiful handmade Christmas trees.  Good food, good cheer and fun permeated the room amid the discussions of the needs of our struggling veterans and their families.

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Stand Down

On November 21st, a Stand Down was held at the Freeport Armory to assist homeless and struggling veterans.  Members of the Manhasset American Legion Auxiliary attended and were joined by members of the St. Mary’s Columbiettes.  Prior to the Stand Down, our Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts assisted us in the collection of new clothing that was distributed to the veterans at the Stand Down.

Vice President and Treasurer, Elizabeth Parrella, and President, Pat O’Brien, helped veterans select clothing

The Columbiettes were pleased to meet a veteran accompanied by a service dog from America’s VetDogs in Smithtown.  The Columbiettes had recently made a generous donation to the organization and were proud to meet a veteran willing to explain the positive impact the service dog had on his life.

Past Nassau County American Legion Auxiliary President, Mary Hansen-Sterger, and Pat O’Brien assisting veterans

Junior Past County American Legion Auxiliary President, Sonja Neal, and Nona Samuels assisting veterans.

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