Students at Dutch Broadway Elementary School in Elmont donated an astounding $11,290 to Building Homes for Heroes on May 30, thanks to their yearlong recycling efforts and the school’s sixth annual Walk-a-Thon, which also benefited the organization.
This event, organized by physical education teachers Deb Bennett and Glenn Saenz and fifth-grade teacher Melissa O’Brien, is always a highlight to the school year. It begins with an outdoor assembly attended by students in grades 3-6. This year, the school was honored to have U.S. Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez in attendance. Spc. Gonzalez was severely injured in combat in Iraq in 2004. Building Homes for Heroes gifted him a mortgage-free home in Florida in 2015. He spoke to the students about his struggles after being injured and how the organization has become family to him.
Also present were the members of the Elmont American Legion Post 1033, the Bellmore Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2770 and the Mineola American Legion Post 349, as well as several students’ parents who are in the reserves or who have served.
The ceremony also featured fifth- and sixth-grade band and chorus students playing and singing patriotic music, as well as a bagpipe performance by Ed Geraghty, of the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. Retired U.S. Marine Bill “The Can Man” Urianek was also on hand to present the organization with a check for $2,000 – the proceeds of the students’ yearlong recycling efforts. Urianek visits the school each week to collect donated bottles, which he recycles, keeping the money in an account for the school. For the past two years, Dutch Broadway has coordinated its recycling efforts with the faculty and students from Meadow School in Baldwin. J.P Iacona, who was a sixth-grade student in Elmont eight years ago, began the recycling program. He spoke to the student body and was given a plaque recognizing his dedication to our veterans.
Following the ceremony, students took to the field to begin the Walk-a-Thon, while veterans enjoyed refreshments with administrators and faculty.
- Dutch Broadway School administrators and teachers are pictured with local veterans and Building Homes for Heroes representatives.
- Dutch Broadway School teacher Melissa O’Brien is pictured with students Chase Ridley and Paris Purcell.
- Dutch Broadway School physical education teacher Deb Bennett and teacher Melissa O’Brien are pictured with Elmont Post 1033 members.
- U.S. Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez (fourth, right) is pictured with local veterans from Elmont.
Photos courtesy of the Elmont School District