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Firefighters Adopt A Battalion

Members of the Floral Park and Stewart Manor fire departments recently expanded the reach of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior (NCFF-OWW) to support Massapequa Park-based Adopt-A-Battalion (AAB). Floral Park Fire Department (FPFD) members Carol and Chris Baktis and Stewart Manor member Mike Kushner visited AAB headquarters to present the organization with a check and to lend a hand sorting, packing and shipping items to troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“OWW is looking to support organizations like AAB to create a network for our heroes,” said SMFD member Bob Barbieri, who accompanied Kushner and the Baktises and who used to volunteer with AAB himself. “AAB helps them before a tragedy and [NCFF-OWW] helps them after,” he said.

Each of the participating departments hosts its own fundraising events throughout the year, and all proceeds go into a central fund. The year’s efforts culminate with the “Long Red Line,” three convoys that leave Long Island in early December to visit military hospitals along the East Coast to personally deliver gifts and gratitude to wounded military personnel.

“Primarily our focus is to donate to the needs of our wounded military who have returned home here to the U.S.,” said NCFF-OWW Chairman Joe O’Grady.

One of the challenges NCFF-OWW faces is finding the veterans who need help, so the group started to reach out to other veterans organizations a couple of years ago. “Most are too proud to ask for the help they so rightfully deserve,” O’Grady said. “In 2013, we donated six sets of kitchen appliances for veterans' homes on Long Island, and donated food gift cards to the VA in Northport. Returning veterans are choosing between eating a meal and paying their rent. We make this donation each year just before Thanksgiving,” he said. NCFF-OWW can be found online at www.ncff-oww.org. For information about ABB call 516-342-5557.