Number of Participants: 300
Hours Donated: 2
Value of Time Served: $5,070
Event Amount Raised: $1,600
Event Type: Veterans & Military Families
Date: June 7, 2023
n honor of Armed Forces Day and National Military Appreciation Month, Meadow Elementary School joined together to thank and give back to veterans. By collecting water bottles and selling t-shirts with the help of their PTA, the families and staff raised $1600 for Building Homes for Heroes®—a non-profit organization dedicated to building or modifying homes that are then gifted, mortgage-free, to injured veterans. To date, Meadow has acquired over 70,000 water bottles from when the school first started this effort nine years ago—totaling to more than $3500 for vets. The water bottles are given to Mr. Bill Urianek, known on Long Island as “Bill the Can Man,” a former marine who collects recyclables, donating the funds to various veteran organizations.
Meadow held a school-wide Armed Forces Day celebration on the back field fully adorned in red, white, and blue, where Mr. Urianek, along with representatives from Building Homes for Heroes, were presented with the check.
In addition, several family members from the Meadow school community who served or continue to serve in the military were honored with a “Certificate of Appreciation” under the ‘grand old, high-flying’ flag, waving from the Baldwin Fire Department’s fire engine ladders against the cloudless sky. The choir and band also performed to commemorate the veterans and students, while staff and the rest of the student body wore patriotic colors and imagery to show their support and pay tribute.
From the United States Army: Mr. Brandon Bailey and Ms. Misbah Bailey with son, Brandon Bailey Jr., and Ms. Mona Narcisse with grandson, Stephan; From the United States Navy: Mr. Paul Patterson with son, Preston Patterson and Mr. Peter R. Van Keuren with grandson, Leonelo Santiago; and from the United States Marines: Mr. Eric Jones with son, Parish Jones and Mr. Anthony Tamburello IV with son, Anthony Tamburello V.
Meadow also honored Mr. Urianek, who served in the Marines, as well as another guest speaker, Mr. Matthew Benny, who, too, was a former marine as well as a humble home recipient because of Building Homes for Heroes. He spoke about how much the program continues to change lives and make a difference for wounded soldiers and their families.
“What started as a small gesture blossomed into not only a school but community effort,” said Dr. Yolanda Martin, principal of Meadow Elementary School. “Post Covid, it was important to help restore empathy, civic engagement, community responsibility in our students and this was a great way to show our students how small efforts can go a long way and make an impact. Something that our Superintendent Dr. Shari Camhi has been saying in the district’s Baldwin 2035 vision is teaching our children how to be change agents in their communities and the world. Kudos to our teachers for teaching the importance of civic leadership, service, and responsibility.”
Organizers and fifth grade teachers, Mrs. Linda Sandorfi and Ms. Vincenza Simal said, “Meadow School is so proud to support Bill the Can Man and Building Homes for Heroes by collecting and recycling water bottles. It teaches our students how one small idea can catch on and grow into something big! The importance of honoring and saying thank you to our veterans past and present is at the heart of what we do as a community.”
In addition to the celebration, a war memorabilia exhibit was set up in Meadow’s gymnasium by Mr. Victor Peppitone and his wife. Students and staff also cherished the “Wall of Heroes,” featuring photographs of relatives who served, and the walls and windows decorated in American pride.