Village of Valley Stream unites to boost veterans’ toiletry drive


The Valley Stream community collected vital toiletry items for homeless and poverty-stricken veterans in an event that kicked off at Wheeler Avenue Elementary School and ended at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School with the final toiletry distribution last Friday.

Organized by the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce, the initiative enlisted widespread participation from residents, students, and businesses, reflecting an outsized show of support for service members returning home.

“I’m so proud to be a member of the village of Valley Stream. This is tremendous what we all did together,” said Chamber of Commerce member Lauri LoQuerico. “And, you know, it’s so sad that there are people that have sacrificed so much for us, and they need basic things that we take for granted. I thank everyone for the generosity and for coming together to help these men and women.”

The Chamber of Commerce led the effort with members and affiliated businesses rallying behind the cause with generous contributions.

“I just want to take this moment to think about the Chamber of Commerce and the village for reaching out and allowing our students to contribute to this worthy cause for our Disabled American Veterans,” Laura Mesa, junior high counselor, and head of the school’s Youth Leadership Club, said. “We are so fortunate and grateful for the work that you do that you’ve done. And so, with that, I want to say thank you.”

Public and private schools across Valley Stream played a key role in the success of the toiletry drive, namely Memorial Junior High School, Valley Stream Central High School, Wheeler Avenue, William L. Buck, the Valley Stream Christian Academy, and Holy Name of Mary.

From creating promotional materials to sorting donated items, their involvement displayed their empathy and civic responsibility.

The Youth Leadership Clubs from Memorial Junior High School and Central High School emerged as proactively engaged partners in the drive.

“They work together as a team to elevate themselves and each other” Mesa said. “That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s about paying forward, doing good work, and giving back to our communities. So, initiatives like this, this is what we’re all about.

“Every chance we get, you may even see them sometimes during the weekends, they are quick to sign up for anything that I offer them. It’s always good to know that all I have to do is present an opportunity.”

The toiletry essentials were presented to  representatives from the Disabled American Veterans who were moved by these contributions.

“So, from our heart, we say thank you, this is not something that’s going to be misused, it’s going to go to the people who need it, and I know that they’re going to appreciate it,” George Catalanotto, treasurer of Disabled American Veterans chapter 145, said. “Thank you all and God bless you for your generosity.”

Donated items will be distributed on multiple occasions throughout the year. These drive-through distributions are referred to as “stand-downs.” One is scheduled for May 21 under the Freeport Armory.

The goods collected, including toiletries and other essentials, will be organized and packaged by the Veteran Service Agency. These packages will include toiletries, food items and other necessities. The primary recipients of these packages are veterans in need.

Additionally, due to the generous amount of donations received, some of the goods will be distributed to veterans’ homes in various locations. These locations include Northport, Stony Brook, St. Albans, and Brooklyn. This ensures that the impact of the toiletry drive extends beyond just the immediate community of Valley Stream, reaching veterans in need across different areas

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