NAUGATUCK — Two Naugatuck High School students are lending a helping hand to veterans’ organizations in the borough.
Juniors Gregory Marquardt and Ryan Russett are organizing a ziti dinner to benefit the American Legion Post 17 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1946. The dinner is scheduled for March 8 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the American Legion, 21 Cedar St. There is a snow date of March 15.
Hosting the dinner is part of the students’ civic action project for their civics class.
Marquardt said he was moved to help after hearing the speeches from veterans on Veteran’s Day.
“It really impacted me, how they don’t have money for them and other veterans. When I had to do this project I thought why not raise money to help support these veterans,” Marquardt said.
Even though his civics class has already come to an end, Marquardt wanted to see the project through and continued on with it in his free time.
Russett said he started working on this project because he has family in the military.
“My brother is in the Army, and I thought how much the veterans had to give up for their country. So I thought we should give something back to them,” Russett said.
American Legion Commander Bob Genovese said it means a lot to him and the other veterans that Russett and Marquardt wanted to donate to the veterans.
“When Ryan called me about this and said they wanted to do a civic action project and wanted to do something for the veterans, I thought that was very patriotic of them to even think of us. We sat down, talked with a few of the guys, and we came up with this particular fundraiser,” Genovese said. “It’s something you don’t expect, but it’s nice that they came forward to do something like this.”
Marquardt said a pasta dinner fundraiser was selected because it’s something that could draw a large crowd.
“They came up with pasta dinner and I agreed with it because everybody loves pasta and meatballs,” Marquardt said.
Genovese said the two young men have already done a lot to promote the dinner, having hung posters and spread the word around. They also enlisted the help of volunteers from the high school to help wait tables that evening.
“These two guys, I got to give them a lot of praise for doing what they’re doing,” Genovese said. “It’s nice to see them get behind us.”
Genovese said the dinner comes at an opportune time for both the American Legion and the VFW.
“The two organizations are in a little bit of financial straits right now, so they can use the extra dollars,” Genovese said. “Right now membership in all organizations is at a low point. It seems as the older generation passes on there are not too many younger people coming up.”
Genovese said the money will go into the organizations’ general funds to be used as the organizations need.
“Some could be used to help a veteran, some could be used to pay an oil bill,” Genovese said.
Tickets to the dinner are $8. For tickets, call Bob Genovese at (203) 729-0817, Tony Honyotski at (203) 525-1817 or Greg Marquardt at (203) 503-4085.