Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clipping Coupons for a Good Cause by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle

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The Ozone Park Senior Center was recognized for its good work clipping coupons for troops in Europe to use at base commissaries.PHOTO BY BRYAN YURCAN

The phrase “support the troops” is often bandied about or plastered on bumper stickers without much thought paid to it, but the members of the Ozone Park Senior Center have truly taken it to heart.

Seniors there have been gathering coupons to send to troops stationed overseas in Germany so they can purchase much-needed goods.

This is done through the Army Community Service Coupons Program, in which service members and their families are able to use donated coupons to purchase food and supplies through commissaries located on military installations. The military stores sell a variety of products, including food, personal hygiene items, pet supplies and cosmetics. The commissaries accept domestic coupons up to six months after their expiration date for their products.

On Friday, the seniors were recognized for their good work during a ceremony at the center, located in the basement of the St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church in Ozone Park.

The event was organized by the Richmond Hill South Civic Association, which has worked with the senior center in the effort. Civic members mailed out the coupons clipped and collected by the seniors.

Civic association President Margaret Finnerty said the seniors had clipped coupons totaling more than $175,000 for troops over the last two years.

“With Veterans Day coming, this is a great time to recognize the good work these seniors have done for our troops,” Finnerty said.

In addition to clipping coupons, members of the senior center, which is operated by Catholic Charities and receives funding from the city Department for the Aging, have crocheted nearly 100 hats and scarves to send to servicemen and women, according to Rosemary Heggers, the site manager for the senior center.

“This is something we’re very proud to do,” she said.

Heggers said the seniors decided to crochet the clothing items after the center received a large donation of yarn in the colors of the American flag.

“This way, every time they receive a scarf or hat they can see the red, white and blue,” Heggers said.

Also recognizing the good work of the Ozone Park Senior Center were elected officials including state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). All of them issued certificates of appreciation to the senior center.

Addabbo, who along with Miller won re-election to the state Legislature Nov. 2, said voting is a reminder of the sacrifices members of the armed services have made to protect American freedoms.

“We would not have an Election Day at all if it wasn’t for veterans,” he said.

Addabbo said it is important for citizens to recognize the importance of what veterans and seniors have done for the country, and that both are groups, “that we have to take care of.”

Miller also thanked the seniors for their good work.

“It’s nice to be able to give the troops something back,” he said.

Ulrich praised senior center members who clipped coupons for giving back to the men and women serving overseas.

“We want to make sure we can do as much as possible to help them,” Ulrich said.