U.S. military service members, including those who are wounded, often lack things they and their families need in their day-to-day lives, said Ed Powers, a New Hyde Park firefighter.
That’s why Powers and other New Hyde Park firefighters join others from across Nassau County each year to help “fill the gap” through Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, he said — and a fire department fundraiser on Saturday will help do just that.
“Whatever the need is for a particular year, we try to fill it,” Powers said.
The New Hyde Park Fire Department’s auction and dinner aims to raise money for items that Nassau firefighters will take to three military bases and hospitals next month.
Three convoys of firefighters will depart on a five-day trip to take clothing, cards, TVs, toys and other items to the U.S. Army base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
The firefighters stay on the bases and eat meals with soldiers in mess halls on their trips, said Michael Dolan, a longtime New Hyde Park firefighter.
The soldiers are grateful when they arrive, Dolan said — one man from Wisconsin once called them “heroes” after he received an FDNY baseball cap.
“They love to see us,” Dolan said.
Local businesses such as P.C. Richard, members of the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the New Hyde Park Lions Club are generous donors to the effort, Powers said.
Children from local elementary schools also write cards to the soldiers and collect T-shirts and socks for them, Dolan said.
“All together, it’s a family that everybody helps everybody out and ultimately helps the wounded warriors,” Powers said.
The New Hyde Park auction is one of several events Nassau County fire departments host to benefit Operation Wounded Warriors. The Roslyn and Lynbrook fire departments put on concerts in the fall.
Firefighters also volunteer at Northport VA Medical Center and help build handicap-accessible homes for wounded veterans on Long Island, Powers said.
“We try to help at home here, but the main focus began with the trips down there,” Powers said.
The event with live and Chinese auctions runs from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday at the New Hyde Park Fire Department headquarters, at 1555 Jericho Turnpike.
The $30 ticket pays for food from the New Hyde Park Diner, beer, wine, soda and live music from Rick & Ted.
Clothing and other Operation Wounded Warrior items are being collected on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Church of the Holy Spirit in New Hyde Park until the firefighters’ convoys leave Dec. 7.