The American Legion Auxiliary turned 100 years old on Nov. 10. To celebrate this special occasion, the Junior members of Manhasset Unit 304 hosted a 100th birthday party on Saturday, November 16, which was open to the entire community. The Juniors hoped to increase awareness of the Auxiliary in the community and to recruit new Auxiliary members and volunteers. During the celebration, loyal supporters of the Auxiliary such as Ace in the Hole Foundation, Care To Knit, the Columbiettes, American Legion Post 304, Raindew, Umberto’s of Manhasset, the St. Mary’s Gaels Parents’ Association, the Church of St. Mary, Manhasset Deli, Boy Scout Troops 97 and 71, and many more were recognized with certificates of appreciation.
The event was very successful in attracting new members and volunteers. Manhasset Unit 304 added several new members that day and more since, becoming “younger” as well with the addition of six new Junior members. The energy and spark of youth helped to power the huge “Make the Holidays Brighter for Our Veterans” initiative that was held a few weeks later on Saturday, December 7, 2019. During this drive Manhasset Unit 304 collected donations of new clothing and toiletries for Veterans hospitalized or in residence at the Northport VA Medical Center. These would become part of holiday gift packages, something that Unit 304 has been doing for several years with the support of the Manhasset community. The drive also included the collection of donated comfort items for troops serving in Afghanistan.
In preparation for the December 7thevent, the Auxiliary’s younger members and supporters, Kaitlyn Clarke, Matthew Moschitta, Daniel Cataldo and Justine Cuomo, worked to ensure that the many details and schedules needed to make the day a success were in place. With major support for this effort from Raindew, the Junior Auxiliary members, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Manhasset volunteers set up a table in the back of Raindew that Saturday to seek donations of purchased items such as toiletries and clothing as well as monetary donations from the community. The freezing temperatures were harsh on the volunteers, but one Auxiliary Junior reported that people were more generous because “we were braving the cold in support of the Veterans.” Manhasset Unit 304 of the Auxiliary would like to thank the management team at Raindew for its phenomenal support, outstanding service, and numerous clothing donations.
At the American Legion Post 304 from 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM that day, there was a continuous stream of volunteers and donations. The sign-in sheet ran to four pages, because so many came to volunteer their time or drop off donations. Younger volunteers sorted items, wrapped blankets from Care To Knit, signed and created holiday cards, and provided relief from the cold for those at the Raindew tables. Everyone working that day enjoyed pizza generously supplied by Umberto’s of Manhasset.
The Northport VA Medical Center had requested six Robotic Dogs and Cats, as these have been found to be helpful to patients suffering from dementia. These were donated by Ace in the Hole Foundation. Northport had also requested 35 cordless shavers. These were subsidized by the DeMatteis Foundation and several other private donors.
Led by President Pat O’Brien and other senior members of Unit 304, the day was an amazingly orchestrated community event that resulted in wonderful gift packages for the veterans at Northport and many items that will be sent to our troops serving in Afghanistan. Just as significantly, it also made many of our community youth aware of the importance of serving those who have served and continue to serve our country.
The 243 holiday gift bags and additional items were delivered to the Northport VA Medical Center on Monday, December 16, by a group of Auxiliary members. A truck and driver donated by Tridon Chemical, as well as a trailer on loan from the Manhasset Crew Team, made the trip much easier. The gifts will be distributed to veterans on December 19. Last year the joy on the faces of the veterans receiving the gifts was indescribable, with many stunned to be receiving holiday gifts from those who are strangers to them, others moved to tears that they were not forgotten.
The items collected on December 7 for the troops serving in Afghanistan will be packed up by the Junior Auxiliary in the near future, which will represent another opportunity for them to provide service to those serving our country. The Auxiliary is still accepting cards and items for these care packages as well as donations to defray shipping costs for the packages. Checks may be made payable to American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 and mailed to 27 Bayview Avenue, Manhasset, NY 11030.
In addition, Unit 304 partnered this year with the Working Women of Manhasset (WWOM) to prepare 50 holiday gift bags for the female veterans who attend the Northport VA Hospital Women’s Wellness Center. Led by Susan Neville, 2ndVice President of Manhasset Unit 304, nine committee members from both organizations shopped for and packed the bags with personal care items, in addition to chocolates, cookies and holiday card greetings. These bags were delivered to the Northport VA Medical Center earlier in December. Each woman attending the Center during the month of December will receive a gift bag in recognition of her valued service.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 thanks all who gave so generously for our Veterans and our troops and wishes everyone a happy and blessed holiday season.
If you are interested in learning more about American Legion Auxiliary Unit 304 or would like to join, please visit www.manhassetala.orgor contact Unit 304 President, Pat O’Brien, at [email protected] 516-850-5702.
Submitted by American Legion Auxiliary, Manhasset Unit 304