When it comes to holding a fundraiser for one of their own, no one does it better than Support Our Service people (SOS) and the American Legion Post 72.
Veterans, Legion members, SOS volunteers and friends of Vietnam vet Art Russell packed Legion Post 72 Saturday, Aug. 15 to help raise funds so the popular Saugerties resident could finish rebuilding his home, which was destroyed in a fire earlier this year.
Russell, who was a letter carrier for many years, said his insurance company would not cover a new foundation for the modular home he had put up to replace his 1880s stick-built house on Second St. that was gutted in the fire. The old home had a rubble foundation, and building code required a poured concrete foundation, which the insurance company refused to cover.
So a few of Art’s friends got together to help this man of few words. “This really means a lot to me,” Russell said in between flipping burgers and grilling hotdogs at the fundraiser.
As a soldier in 1966, Russell served in Vietnam with the 46th Engineering Brigade. He had been stationed in France before volunteering for a yearlong tour of duty.
After being discharged, he worked for the post office in Saugerties for 36 years and nine months.
And when it was his time of need, the friends he made as a postman and a member of the Legion stepped up to help out.
The Legion donated use of the hall, according to Gaetana Ciarlante, president of the SOS, which ran the event. Even the two local bands providing entertainment, the Paul Luke Band and Gutter Cat, donated their services so that all money raised would go to Art.
“I couldn’t think of a better cause,” said Paul Luke (aka Paul Andreassen), who was a Navy Seabee. He added that he’s known Art most of his life.
“This is what we do,” he said. “Help each other out.”
Fran Heinlein, SOS treasurer, who worked in the kitchen end, said, “We do what we can to give back to the community, and help out our veterans.”
“It’s gratifying to have everyone from the community come together to help out Art,” said Ciarlante.