Rather than sleep in on Saturday – something I always try my best to do but always seem to fail at anyway – I rolled my lazy self out of bed and traveled to the NYS Veterans’ Home in Oxford for my second effort at Delivering Christmas. While Oxford isn’t officially in my coverage area, I did so as a favor to my co-worker Melissa Stagnaro, who needed a last-minute substitute. I didn’t mind though, since it not only helped her out, it gave me a chance to visit with the friendly staff and the many volunteers who were on hand for the residents’ annual “shopping” spree.
I arrived at the Vets’ Home at precisely 8 a.m., just in time to see a large, approximately 30-foot-long truck pull up to the front door of the new facility. For the next 20 minutes or so, a handful of other early arrivals and I unloaded 30 to 40 large plastic bins. The mood was jovial and good-hearted, and it was inspiring to see so many people, of all age groups, come together for a good cause.
As more and more volunteers began to arrive, we tentatively began getting things set up. There was a measure of barely controlled chaos at the start, but we soon had the bins of gifts grouped by category – men’s, women’s, children’s, couples and family. After that, it was a simple matter of getting everything displayed on the dozen tables arranged around the room.
Now I can’t say for sure, but I would have to guess that approximately 100 members of the 6th District American Legion Family – represented by the American Legion itself, the American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary Juniors – were present. I was again amazed to see such a diverse gathering come together for such a great purpose. I’ll admit I was a little confused at first as to what we were actually doing, so I just went with the flow. Eventually, however, NYS Vets’ Home Volunteer Guild President Pat Konopka set me straight...