NCFF Operation Wounded Warrior Delivers Hope to Vets

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Donations Accepted at American Legion Post, Centennial Hall

The next time you visit the Village of Floral Park, you can make one very important stop that will help wounded soldiers in need. The Nassau County Firefighter’s Operation Wounded Warrior (NCFF-OWW) project is currently accepting donations at the Floral Park American Legion Post and Centennial Hall to be distributed to soldiers in time for the holidays.

The NCFF-OWW is a non-profit organization centered on providing much-needed items to the wounded men and women of the armed services. The organization works closely with military representatives to ensure that useful clothing, personal entertainment electronics and get-well cards are properly channeled to recovering service personnel, according to its website.

Comprised of firefighter and EMS volunteers who conduct numerous fundraising events throughout the year to help meet its goals, the NCFF-OWW enjoys the cooperation of the 39 of the 71 fire departments of Nassau County, including local departments such as Stewart Manor, Floral Park Centre, New Hyde Park, Bellerose Village and Bellerose Terrace.

Each year’s massive fundraising efforts culminate with a personal visit of NCFF-OWW representatives in the first week of December to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland, U.S. Army Post at Fort Bragg, NC, and the Marine Unit at Camp Lejeune, NC.

In addition to collecting items and visiting wounded service personnel, NCFF-OWW organizes, on behalf of the Nassau County fire service, welcome home greetings to local soldiers and marines who have recovered from serious injuries.

Floral Park Fire Department Ex-Chief Joe O’Grady, a resident for 47 years and fire department member for 27 years, has chaired the project since 2005. Throughout the years, O’Grady says the program has continued to grow into an Island-wide effort. O’Grady estimated that the group has already raised $100,000 each year for wounded warriors through all of its fundraising initiatives.

“It’s very rewarding personally to go down there and say thank you to these guys…most of the soldiers have relentless desire and passion to get back to the battle…they are very appreciative of something as simple as a T-shirt that we bring them. A lot of the things that we take for granted in New York, they are hurting for down in the south,” O’Grady added. “It’s just nice to say thanks at Christmastime; they really get inspired by it.”

For the first time, the Floral Park American Legion has also joined forces with NCFF-OWW to help be a collection site for donations. Post Commander Jim McDonald explained that the Post headquarters is an ideal drop-off location as it is across from John Lewis Childs School. He also emphasized that supporting veterans’ causes is an important part of the Legion’s mission. “We are or could be where these guys are. We connect closely with them,” McDonald said.

Past Legion Commander and Floral Park resident William J. Corbett said the community effort is widespread and highlighted the Methodist Women, who have been knitting lap robes for the project. “One of the prime objectives of the American Legion is to help service members and veterans and their families. Our participation with Wounded Warriors is most appropriate in helping those who were injured while defending our freedoms. These are real heroes and they deserve all the support we can give them and their families,” Corbett said.

Mayor Thomas Tweedy says the Village of Floral Park and its departments have rallied behind the cause, lending space for collections at Centennial Hall. “In many cases, the anonymous that served, they get forgotten. The Wounded Warriors Project is such a great program because they don’t forget them and they really respond to what is really a crying need to some of these returning vets, especially those with injuries affected by war in defense of this country,” Tweedy said.

Tweedy applauded the efforts of Ex-Chief O’Grady and volunteers from Floral Park Fire Department who have adopted the cause with great enthusiasm. “They are very involved with it. They just jump in and give of their time, their weekends in collecting and organizing and doing what needs to be done,” he remarked.  

Donations for the Wounded Warrior program are being accepted at the Floral Park American Legion Post, located at 15 Elizabeth St., on Friday evenings, from 6 to 10 p.m. through Nov. 25; and at Centennial Hall, 27 Tulip Ave.

Items most in need include athletic clothing, sweatsuits (L and XL); white socks, especially short white ankle socks, shorts, T-shirts, gloves for wheelchair patients and other appropriate donations such as phone cards, toiletries and essential comfort items. Checks payable to ‘Wounded Warrior Project’ will also be accepted. Other items being sought are new toys for preschool and grammar school age children of the wounded soldiers and diapers and baby care items for infants of wounded soldiers.

For additional information on NCFF-OWW, visit the website at www.ncff-oww.com; or call 516-717-1364.

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