When Malverne American Legion Post 44 volunteer Peter Mura, 16, found out in March that he had been selected as the post’s delegate to the annual American Legion Boys State summer program, he was elated. Mura’s excitement was short lived, however, because the program was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So he decided to make the most of his time at home by starting a service project to support members of the U.S. military. “I just felt like there was something that I could do to help people in need,” Mura said.
He decided to support an Army medical unit from Massachusetts that was stationed at the Javits Center in Manhattan to help Covid-19 patients. Mura learned about the group from his uncle Michael Douglass, a nurse in the unit. The unit was stationed at Javits in April and May, so Mura assembled goody bags and handed them out every Sunday morning. He delivered potted flowers to mothers in the unit on Mother’s Day.
“I’m glad that not only was I able to help family, but I also helped strangers out as well,” he said. “I knew they were away from their families, so I wanted them to know how appreciated they are. With New York City being one of the hot spots at the time, I wanted to support them in any way possible.”
An incoming senior at Valley Stream North High School, Mura reached out to groups such as Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Interact Club to organize baked goods for the Army unit. Members of the American Legion Riders, the American Legion Auxiliary at Post 1033 in Elmont and Girl Scout Troop 2033 in Valley Stream helped him put together the goody bags.
“I knew a lot of students at my school were inactive, and that they probably wanted to contribute to their community as well,” Mura said. “Everyone’s been really positive about it, especially Dawn Samuel” — the leader of Troop 2033. “Every week, she helped me out in some way, which was a huge lift.”
The Malverne American Legion’s Auxiliary Unit also helped Mura with his project, purchasing cards and sharing their own handmade cards from the auxiliary juniors and the Sons of the American Legion. Each card he delivered contained a Life Savers candy, attached to the message “Thank you for being a great New York Life Saver.”
Mura will be presented with the Good Deed Award by Post 44 in August or September. “His leadership, tenacity, caring and professionalism makes Peter Mura Malverne Unit 44’s candidate for the Good Deed Award,” Ladies Auxiliary President Dr. Carol Hassett said. “His service project benefited our neighboring citizen warriors who answered the call to help New Yorkers through the Covid-19 pandemic.”
While Mura remained disappointed about the cancellation of Boys State, in which students participate in activities that help them learn about local, county and state government, he said that his project taught him lessons that would last a lifetime. He said he hoped to join the U.S. military, by way of West Point or the Naval Academy, and explained that anyone can give back to others by simply finding a need.
“If you think there isn’t a need, reach out and ask around about what you can do,” Mura said, “because there’s always a need.”