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Carrozza celebrates 15 yrs. collecting valentines for vets

The cards and gifts Queens students and residents are donating as part of a Valentine’s Day drive not only help area veterans to have a happier holiday but remind the military men and women that they are remembered and cared for, former state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza said.

“They love the goodies and treats, but it’s the drawings and notes they keep on their walls all year,” said Carrozza, who is helping to sponsor the 15th-annual Valentine’s Day drive for Queens veterans. “It reminds them on a daily basis they’re not forgotten.”

Carrozza, the Jefferson Democratic Club in Bayside and Robert Mittman, a doctor in Bayside, are holding the drive that will end Feb. 11. Individuals are asked to bring donations of cards, candy — especially sugar free — toiletries and new clothing such as pajamas, robes, slippers and socks for hospitalized and disabled veterans at the St. Albans Community Living Center of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and the New York State Veterans Home in St. Albans.

The donations can be dropped off at Carrozza’s law office at 213-38 40th Ave.; state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s (D-Bayside) office at 213-33 39th Ave., Suite 238; or Mittman’s Allergy and Asthma Family Care Center at 38-21 Bell Blvd.

Carrozza began the drive when she was in college and expanded it when she was first elected into office more than 14 years ago. Braunstein won the Assembly seat Carrozza represented after she announced last year that she would not run for re-election.

“I had service veterans in my family growing up, and in college I became aware that not enough attention was being paid to our veterans and it means so much to them when people are grateful and appreciative of their sacrifice,” Carrozza said.

The donations go to veterans who served in World War II, South Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Students from area schools, including Holy Cross High School in Bayside, will present the donations, including letters written by elementary school students in northeast Queens, Carrozza said.

“The students are just wonderful,” Carrozza said. “They are super respectful. They ask pointed questions about where the veterans served, and those interactions are absolutely moving.”

The former legislator said they often collect thousands of donations, and she said she hopes the number of items they collect this year will make for a “record-breaking” drive.

“I would ask people if they haven’t participated to look around their homes, and there may be something they don’t use they can donate,” Carrozza said. “Maybe a decorative object that may provide a boost to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have a happy Valentine’s.”

For more information about the drive, call 718-224-4746 or e-mail jeffersondems@gmail.com.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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