Staten Island Borough President James Oddo recently announced a new initiative – “Books for Vets” – in which his office, working with AMVETS Post 917 and 103, will collect and distribute books to wounded military personnel and Veterans at VA hospitals throughout the tri-state area and as far away as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In his press release, Borough President Oddo praised YNY president and founder Joni A Yoswein for inspiring him to undertake the initiative. Each year, the Yoswein Foundation’s signature program – Books Still Matter – hosts book drives that deliver thousands of children’s books to public housing facilities across the borough.
For more details, see the full press release, below. Those interested in donating books can do so by visiting locations listed here.
For Immediate Release Contact: Allison Cohen
April 11, 2016 Phone: (718) 816-2136
Borough President Initiates Books for Wounded Vets Program
Books to be sent to Veteran’s Administration hospitals as far as Walter Reed; Book fair planned at Barnes & Noble April 14 through 17th, kicked off with Ron Darling book signing on April 17
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Borough President James Oddo has initiated a program designed to collect and distribute books to wounded United States military personnel at Veteran’s Administration hospitals.
Books will be obtained at book fairs, the first of which will be held at Barnes & Noble from April 14th through 17th. On the 17th, former Met pitcher and current announcer Ron Darling will be signing books.
“First and foremost, I want the men and women of our military to know Staten Islanders are thinking about them,” said Borough President Oddo. “Yes, books are a small gesture, but if we can give these brave individuals even just a few hours to escape into a book, it will be something.”
For distribution to the hospitals, the Borough President has enlisted the aid of former Project Homefront Executive Director Jack Semich, who is now the Vice Commander of American Veterans (AMVETS) Post 917 and Tom Abarno, Commander of AMVETS Post 103. They will pick up books at Staten Island Borough Hall and coordinate the distribution to VA hospitals throughout the tri-state area and as far away as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
“There is no way we can adequately repay them for their sacrifices, but we can let them know they are in our hearts and minds,” said Oddo.
Books are also being donated by local writers, such as Eddie Joyce, author of “Small Mercies,” and Dolores Morris, author of “The Soldier That Wagged Her Tail.”
“This is just a very small way to recognize the tremendous service and sacrifices of our Veterans. It’s the least I could do,” said Joyce, whose publisher, Viking, is also donating books.
“Dad and I are very proud to share his story with these Veterans,” said Ms. Morris. “We owe all of them a tremendous debt. We hope his story brings them some pleasure and a sense that a fellow veteran salutes them and wishes them well.”
The germ of the idea came from a friend of the Borough President, Joni Yoswein, who has been collecting and donating books to public housing developments. “It was Joni’s idea,” noted Oddo, who was given the book “When Books Went to War” by Molly Manning by Ms. Yoswein. “Although sending books overseas presented too many hurdles – sending them to wounded vets was a natural alternative.”
The AMVETS Post 917 service committee, under Commander Vincent Hardin will bring the books to Walter Reed Hospital, while Abarno of Post 103 will deliver to Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. If the program goes well, the intention is to expand out through Long Island and as far north as Rochester.