In an effort to give back to the communities they already served while overseas, members of the American Legion Post 336 held their annual pre-holiday dinner party for the public on Friday. Residents were able to enjoy a buffet filled with food donated by local restaurants, as well as music from the South Street Band.
Ken Kraft, the coordinator of the event and member of the legion, started serving up hot meals to the masses free of charge 14 years ago.
“[This night] is an opportunity for us to bring the community that we support into our home,” Kraft said. “I started with six local caterers, and now I have 26 and they help us out by donating trays of food.” Some of the local vendors included Abeetza Pizza, Cedar Creek, Sid’s Burgers, and St. Rocco’s Bakery.
Kraft said that although the legion doesn’t charge admission for the party, they collected donations and held a 50/50 raffle. The money raised will be used to fund their Pre-Holiday Food Drive.
“The drive has evolved from collecting canned foods. All the money we raise tonight will be used to deliver fresh meals to families in need,” Kraft said. He added that the meals are put together by his vendors, and are delivered to families in person a few days before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I’m very lucky to have the support of the legion, as well as have students from North Shore High School’s Key Club come in and help serve food,” Kraft said. “It’s a great way to give back.”
In addition to the food drive, the legion is hosting a special event in November to honor veterans of the Global War on Terror, another way, Arnold Sabino says, members can give back to the community.
“The event, called ‘Let Us Remember,’ is the first of its kind, and it’s unique because it’s geared towards the younger veterans,” Sabino said. The event will also boast dinner, dancing, and entertainment, and will be held on Nov. 3 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Glenwood Landing Post 336 in Glen Head.
Sabino has been a member of the legion for seven years, and organized this event as a way to fight the stigma associated with veterans returning from the War on Terror who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder.
“We want to recognize these [specific] veterans, and help them correct the attitude they have about themselves that they don’t need help,” Sabino said. He added that in the past PTSD was simply labeled as ‘combat fatigue,’ but today is modernized to a point where the public understands it.
“‘Let Us Remember’ is meant to provide peace of mind to these young veterans, and offer them support from people who are in the same boat as them,” he said.
The hope is that the event will push War on Terror veterans to enlist in joining Post 336, and help the community even more with a greater span of ideas. “I want these young minds to modernize the legion, and keep it alive for another 100 years,” he explained. “The camaraderie we experience here can’t be found anywhere else.”