Rockville Centre residents know that Spring has arrived when the Little Leaguers go marching up Maple Avenue on April 6. This year’s parade also took on a military flair as the League invited all Rockville Centre Veterans to march in the parade and join the players on the field to be honored as part of the opening ceremonies.
For the third consecutive year, the start of the baseball/softball season also brought hope for many people in need, as the League’s Opening Day event was turned into a food drive where every participant was asked to bring an item of food for the needy. The food collected was shared with food pantries run by the Vineyard Church, United Church of Rockville Centre, St. Agnes Cathedral Service Center/Outreach, the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Central Synagogue of Nassau County and the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, all of which provide food to those in need in Rockville Centre.
League President Tom Bucaria welcomed veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq on to the field to be honored. “Please take a minute, whenever possible, to thank these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our country and our way of life” he said.
Representing all of these patriots, throwing out the first pitches of the softball and baseball seasons, were RVC Assistant School Superintendent Noreen Leahy and former Navy Commander Roberto Milan, who is also a current Little League Manager.
Leahy is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and served as a navigation officer and engineering officer aboard the USS Yosemite. She is a member of the Women at Sea Program and was one of first women to ever serve on a US Navy ship. Previously women were limited to serving on support vessels.
Commander Milan is a Navy combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, including a NATO command in Kabul Afghanistan. He still serves as a reserve member of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps also known as the Seabees.
The food drive was once again a huge success. Drive organizers reported that approximately 2,000 pounds of non-perishable food were collected, about the same as in prior years. Within 30 minutes it was received, boxed and distributed to the six local food pantries involved. “This year’s drive was particularly important to the community,” said food drive coordinator Brian Turner. “All of these organizations’ food stores have been depleted due to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and it is critically important that we take the opportunity to help those in need in our community.” The food donations by parade participants were supplemented by one hundred dollar King Kullen gift card donations from the Rockville Lions Club Lions Club for each of the pantries represented.