Hey Soldier, Thanks a Million!

Hey Soldier, Thanks a Million!

Commander of the Disabled Veteran’s Auxiliary, Janet Bailey; Margaret Finnerty, president of the Richmond Hill South Civic; Christina Gold and Joann Ariola, co-Presidents of the Lindenwood Alliance; Gabe DiBono, youngest member of the Lindenwood Alliance, at just 5, and youngest coupon clipper of the project; Assemblyman Mike Miller; and Sal Simonetti, president of the Our Neighbor’s Civic Association. Forum Newsgroup Photo by Patricia Adams.

There was some hearty partying at the Richmond Hill South Civic Association meeting last week, after a project spearheaded by the civic’s president, Margaret Finnerty, reached its lofty $1 million goal.

It was a little over five years ago, when Finnerty heard that food bills were a big problem for our troops overseas and that valuable manufacturer’s coupons were not available to those soldiers. “When I found out they couldn’t get the coupons but they were allowed to use them, a little light went off in my head,” said Finnerty. “I thought this could be great way to give back a little bit of help to the people who risk their lives for us every minute of every day.” The coupons represent a true opportunity for soldiers and their families to get significant savings on their grocery bills while overseas.

So Finnerty brought the idea to her civic. “Let’s face it,” she told her members, “it would be easy to give up a whole paycheck every week if we had to make monetary donations to all the worthy causes out there.” This was a way she explained to her members that not only would they be serving a great cause—it could all be done for no money and without leaving their homes. “You can do this while sitting and watching TV,” an enthusiastic Finnerty explained.

Once the civic got underway, other local groups heard about it and climbed aboard. First to join the effort was the Ozone Park Senior Center and, to say thanks for their efforts, local elected officials got involved. “We had a little thank you party for the seniors,” Finnerty explained, “that was sponsored by Councilman Ulrich, Assemblyman Miller and Sen. Addabbo. The seniors were thrilled to get the recognition they deserved, a visit from their representatives and some cookies to go with it.”

After that, news of the project caught on and one by one the coupon clipping extravaganza was joined by Our Neighbors Civic, the Howard Beach Senior Center, the Lindenwood Alliance and the Ridgewood Older Adults Center.

“It just goes to show you,” said Lindenwood Alliance Founder and Co-president Joann Ariola at the meeting, “it’s so important for us to show unity with projects like this. It doesn’t matter if you come from Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Howard Beach or any of our other surrounding communities. We’re all doing something together to help people who really deserve it.”

When the project really got going, Finnerty said she was going to throw a big party when they reached a million dollars. “Who ever thought it would happen,” she jokes. “I didn’t even ask my members if I could spend the money for a party because I thought it was so far off.” But the day came a lot quicker than expected, with collections going on for only a little more than five years. The only requirement is to bag the coupons and total the bags. The disabled American Veterans Auxiliary keeps a running tab. “When they called me to say we had reached the million,” Finnerty said, “I was shocked and overjoyed. And then,” she told the crowd at last week’s meeting, “I started planning this party.”

A packed house at the meeting enjoyed a wide variety of sandwiches, drinks and desserts. Every organization, group and individual who contributed was presented with certificates of appreciation from the civic and from all three of their elected officials.

If you would like to get involved with the civic or the coupon project you can attend their monthly meeting on the third Thursday of each month at United Methodist Church at 112-14 107th Ave or contact your local elected officials.

By Patricia Adams


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