story & photo
by Alexis Ann
This past October, as part of Subaru Loves Pets Month, Valenti Subaru, Westerly, Rhode Island, donated pet supplies including 200 stuffed toys and bandanas to Stand Up For Animals (SUFA), Westerly. Lina O’Leary, President, SUFA, was on hand to accept the generous donations as were Art Smith, Animal Control Officer, Larry Hirsch, SUFA board member and others from the SUFA team.
Lina announced, “Relay for Life collected supplies for animals including collars, blankets, tick repellent and of course, these stuffed toys and bandanas from Valenti Subaru.” She continued, “Our community is very animal-friendly and generous.”
Bruce Morrow, General Manager, Valenti Subaru, announced when presenting the gifts, “We are a family within a family the Valenti Family of Dealerships and are honored to offer a leg-up to our furry, four-legged friends here at SUFA.”
Subaru is proud to be a long-standing partner of ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) the leading animal welfare organization in North America, to help bring pets and people together. According to Bruce, “Subaru has donated nearly $20 million to ASPCA and helped support over 1200 adoption events, helping more than 40,000 animals nationwide.”
It was an especially bright, sunny Saturday for all our furry friends at the SUFA shelter! Hats off to Valenti Subaru!
by Karen Koerner
It was a magical moment in front of Foxwoods Resort Casino Nov. 4 when world-renowned illusionist Criss Angel made a $25,000 donation during the fifth annual Stuff the Bus campaign that will benefit the Tommy Toy Fund program of the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. The campaign continues until Dec. 11.
“We are one world, one people,” Criss told the crowd standing in front of the motorcoach that will be stuffed with toys and other gifts. “Children are all our children. I do this in honor of my beautiful son Johnny Christopher.”
Nearly a dozen excited “Loyals,” as Criss’s fans call themselves, screamed in delight when he announced his donation, and quickly collected their own contributions to put toward the Christmas charity. The group gathered from New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and even the United Kingdom. They met at Foxwoods to see Criss perform, and were ecstatic to be able to attend the kickoff with their idol.
Alice Soscia, Leadership Giving Director, United Way of SECT, said cash donations for the kickoff event totaled $26,140. Foxwoods patrons and employees also brought toys to begin the joyful process of stuffing the bus with holiday gifts. She noted that many think of Foxwoods as simply a world-class center for entertainment. “But we as a community see a whole lot more. It’s deeper and impactful and it saves and changes lives every day.”
Contributions of unwrapped toys, blankets, pajamas, jackets and diapers will be collected during the five-week campaign. Donations will be accepted at the Foxwoods Bus Terminal Bay #1 from 8am till 12am and at all Foxwoods hotel lobbies and select locations in the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. Mario Dennis Transportation out of Seekonk Massachusetts supplies the bus for the month-long effort.
“The Stuff the Bus campaign is one of our most important charitable initiatives, and we are proud of the continued support shown by our loyal guests, team members and many of the celebrities who visit or perform at Foxwoods,” said Felix Rappaport, President & CEO, Foxwoods Resort Casino. “In fact, this program continues to get even bigger and more successful every year, and has now brightened the holidays for more than 20,000 children and families in the region.”
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Councilor Danny Menihan recalled how the campaign grew in popularity. “The initial year we filled one (shuttle) bus,” he said. Last year, Foxwoods Stuff the Bus filled more than two motorcoaches with toys, blankets and more that are given to local children who otherwise would not receive Christmas gifts. “It does touch a lot of homes,” he said.
Lynn Page, Loyalty Rewards Manager, Foxwoods Resort Casino, was Emcee of the colorful event. She also recounted the explosion in giving over the years. “This year, what do you think?” she urged the crowd. “Can we fill up two or possibly three buses?”
story & photos
by Eva Bunnell
On the warm, sunny, afternoon of Wednesday, October 4th, family members, friends, and various Navy personnel awaited the return of the USS Missouri to its homeport at the Naval Submarine Base in New London.
Family members of the 132-member crew-15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors- could barely contain their excitement and pride. And who could blame them. Proud American military families are the backbone of the world’s most elite naval force on any water.
The USS Missouri, under the command of Cmdr. Fraser Hudson, is a fast-attack multi-mission, submarine that enables “five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities-sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.” Commissioned on July 31, 2010, the Missouri returned to its homeport after months away from its New London homeport, while “executing the Chief of the Naval Operation’s Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and Maritime Security Operations.” The submarine is “designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance” among many other features that help protect our country. It is “377 feet long with a beam of 34 feet.”
On Wednesday, however, what mattered most to those gathered just beyond the pier, was that the Missouri contained a most precious cargo, its officers and sailors. Pat and Dennis Monks, of East Rutherford, New Jersey, along with their daughter, Sarah, “couldn’t wait” to see and welcome home their son and Sarah’s brother, Dylan, who is a sailor on the Missouri.
Dennis Monk shared proudly that “Prior to joining the Navy, Dylan became a firefighter, just like me. When he became a firefighter, I told him he became my brother. When he joined the Navy, he became my hero.” Standing beside the family at the pier, was Dylan’s fiancé, Samantha Dabek. Adding to the excitement of the day, the family shared that in three weeks the couple will be welcoming family and friends to their wedding. It is set to take place at Yosemite National Park.
As is the custom for submarine crews returning to home port, those who are first in line for a hug and kiss are chosen by lottery. The couple chose for “First Kiss” was Kim and Anthony Rossi, Chief System Technician Submarine. The Rossi’s are from Florida and Arizona, respectively. They met, however, in Groton. Those chosen for “First Hug” were Hannah and Michael Wirth, STSC.
Watching families reunite, and listening to their shouts of joy on first seeing one another, it was hard not to be emotional. These families endure what many civilians do not-separation from one another in service to our nation’s global security. And they do so, with strength.
To the crew and families of the USS Missouri, and to all military and their families-thank you for your sacrifice and service.