Antrim Elementary and Point Pleasant Elks give back to local veterans

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TYLER SPRINGSTEEN THE OCEAN STAR Antrim first grade teacher Terri DiGennaro [from left, front], Elks Chairperson Nancy Devito and volunteer Michael Coulter spent their Veteran’s Day driving around the local area dropping off food, drinks and more to veterans and service members in the community. Here they stand with members of the U.S. Coast Guard Station at the Manasquan Inlet.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Following an annual tradition, members of the community spent Veterans Day giving back to those who serve and have served the nation in the armed forces. Every year, the G. Harold Antrim Elementary School and the Point Pleasant Elks hold separate Veterans Day programs offering veterans a nice time and delicious lunch. The groups have been holding events for many years, with the Elks participating for over 15. This year, like most traditions in the borough because of COVID-19, plans had to change. That’s when Antrim first-grade teacher Terri DiGennaro and Elks Chairperson Nancy Devito thought of a different, but similar, way to honor veterans in their community in honor of the school district and the Elks communities. Both spent their Veterans Day delivering food to veterans and service members in the community all to show appreciation for the member’s dedication to serve their community and their country. “We definitely wanted to show our appreciation for our wonderful veterans who do and did so much for our country,” said Ms. DiGennaro. “We are so thankful.” Both the Elks and the school brought food, fun and more to veterans with doughnuts, hot chocolate and coffee donated by Dunkin’, and bagels donated by The Corner Bagelry. To split up the number of veterans being honored, Ms. DiGennaro delivered the food and drinks to the Coast Guard station in Manasquan, the Point Pleasant Beach VFW and the Elks Club. Ms. Devito delivered to Willow Springs Rehabilitation Center. “It was a collaborative effort,” said Ms. DiGennaro. The Elks even donated a check to the Coast Guard station, in order to honor any service members not present that day. Ms. Devito said the Elks were honored to give back to these veterans who have dedicated themselves to their country. This year she felt giving was extra important because of the pandemic. “I feel so bad for our veterans in the nursing home, because they usually so look forward to us going there,” said Ms. Devito. The Elks often visit Willow Springs Rehabilitation Center and surrounding centers on holidays to show their appreciation as well as just stopping by to say hello. Along with the donated food, students at Antrim School made cards and wrote letters thanking the veterans for their service, fighting for freedom, their bravery and making our world a better place, Ms. DiGennaro said. With the cards, Students in Ms. DiGennaro and Dawn Weiss’s classes made videos singing “You’re a Grand Ole Flag” and “America the Beautiful.” First-grade classes also learned the poem, “The Banner Yet Wave,” written by a Navy veteran of the Korean War, William Bataille. “I really do miss not doing the program this year, but I was glad that we could do a little something to let the veterans know they are not forgotten,” said Ms. DiGennaro. David Snyder, executive commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Station at the Manasquan Inlet, said they were grateful to receive the generous donations. “It’s always gratefully appreciated,” said Officer Synder. “Our relationship with the local community, we got a very tight-knit local community here so it’s wonderful seeing them come out supporting the station.” He said it’s a two-way partnership with the community. “We’re looking forward to when we’re able to get back in the schools, talk to the kids,” he said, “just stay tight with the community.”

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