Tonawanda News — In last week’s column, a query came from Bill Wittkowsky about the WWII veterans who travel to Washington, D.C. on a one-day free trip to visit the veterans’ monuments.
Senator George Maziarz called to tell about his involvement in WNY Heroes Flight. The unfortunate part of this story is that Bill died this week before he had a chance to learn the answer.
In Bill’s memory and for any WWII veterans interested in the organization, here’s the information:
The senator said he was so impressed with the Honor Flight organization after attending one of their flights as a guardian that he wanted to do something to help, forming a group to take WWII veterans to Washington based on the same principal at the Honor Flight.
“There are approximately 56 spots per trip and we try to make sure they are divided equally so each veteran has a guardian assigned to them for the day,” the senator explained.
Maziarz’s office did outreach to both Niagara and Orleans counties’ veterans offices. For the October trip, 25 veterans participated. Each is provided a boxed lunch and a fancy dinner before the flight back to Buffalo.
The 2012 trip was completely paid for through generous donations from Walmart Foundation and Mulvey Construction. Also the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce joined to make the event possible. There is no cost to the guardians who volunteer to accompany a veteran.
“We are hoping to do another trip in the spring of 2013. If you know of anyone looking to fill out an application to be added to the list, call my office at 434-0680 or email Maziarz@nysenate.gov,” he said.
Jack Zobrist sent in a letter about Honor Flight Buffalo Inc. which provides the same service to WWII veterans several times a year.
“It was my privilege to be on a flight in June,” Jack wrote. “My grandson, who had never been to Washington offered to go as my escort. It was a great experience from beginning to end. ... At the (Buffalo) airport at 11 p.m., the Clarence Rotary presented Honor Flight Buffalo with a check fo $10,000.” He added that the Girls Scouts were at the Mall in Washington that day and one asked to take a photo of the back of his T-shirt, which read: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a WWII veteran.”
Not since Spudnuts has there been so much interest in the yarn in my closet. If you have yarn you want to donate, here’s a shortened list:
• First up was Betty Wactawski who said a group at DeGraff Memorial Hospital knits squares for lap robes for extended care residents and Hospice. Yarn may be dropped off at the hospital’s gift shop.
• Audrey Gardner from the VFW in Tonawanda said Nancy Ball knits chemo hats and hats for the homeless and veterans. Drop off yarn at the VFW on Elgin Street or call 693-9755 for pick up.
• St. Christopher’s Church in the Town of Tonawanda has a “Warm Hands Ministry” and is always looking for yarn. Call 692-5682.
• Crestwood Independent Living in Wheatfield has a knitting/crocheting group, Crafting for a Cause, which meets every Sunday at 1 p.m. and makes squares that become lap robes for patients at Roswell, larger squares that become twin bed size blankets designated for teenagers at Community Missions, baby hats and scarves that go overseas. None of the ladies in the group is younger than 70. Call 216-4295 for information or to drop off yarn, needles, etc.
• Sandi Klug reported that Marlene Arcara, who you may know from Walker Bros. Jewelry, has a group of ladies who knit and crochet hats, scarves, slippers, lap robes for various charities. She can use any size balls of leftover yarn to keep her friends busy and all for worthwhile charities. Marlene would be grateful for any left over yarn.
• St. Francis of Assisi and St. Andrew’s churches have knitting ministries that make prayer shawls and other items.
So dig out that unused yarn and find it a new home.
Lastly, a final note of tribute to Bill Wittkowsky. A superb photographer, former mayor and a wonderful historian of the Twin Cities, he became a favorite when he’d bring his Flashback column in to the newsroom, sit for a spell and be such a curmudgeon but with a hearty laugh. We agreed that each of us was always right, so why do people even argue? He once looked up the word curmudgeon and gave the following example: “Only a curmudgeon would object to the nursing home’s holiday decorations.” He was a great leader, full of wit and charm. Condolences to his family.Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org