Vietnam veteran Bob Clement and Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford, both members of Long Beach’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1384, stood inside of the Stop & Shop on East Park Avenue Nov. 1 for hours accepting donations from residents in exchange for a red flower with a little white note attached to it — known as a poppy.
A poppy is worn and distributed to symbolize the sacrifices made by service members around the world. In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, members of the VFW have been stationed at Stop & Shop and other local supermarkets since early October, where they are accepting donations from residents. The money collected will help the VFW purchase gifts for veterans in local hospitals and nursing homes, VFW Commander Dan McPhee said.
Mcphee, who has been commander for nearly a decade, headed the movement four years ago and said the donations collected during this time, along with other events, have helped purchase more than 800 gifts for veterans and raising $40,000 throughout the years. He added that each gift is roughly $50 for each veteran.
In past years, the VFW has gone to the Northport VA Medical Center, St. Albans VA Medical Center and nursing homes in Hempstead and the Bronx, among others. This year, McPhee said, the organization will also add South Oaks Hospital to its list.
“It’s a good program,” Clement said. “The veterans are in these facilities and it’s nice to give them recognition during the holidays.”
The VFW will continue to collect donations through Nov. 10.
Jackie Ervolina, a member of VFW Post 1384, said a local scout troop will soon begin a six-month-long initiative making poppies for veterans and accepting donations.
Afterward, the poppies will be planted at the median on West Park Avenue to resemble Flanders Field –– the site of a major battle in World War I in France and the concept behind John McCrae’s famous wartime poem, “In Flanders Fields.”
The project is expected to begin at the Veteran’s Day observance ceremony, which will be held on the sixth floor of City Hall on Monday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m.