Just about everyone gives lip service to the sacrifices made by members of America’s armed forces, especially those who have been killed or maimed in wartime. But how many people put their money where their mouth is, by supporting charities that provide tangible aid to war veterans with permanent debilitating injuries? Well, on the SUNY New Paltz campus, the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity certainly does. And your chance to help out (while enjoying a tasty meal) is coming up next Wednesday, March 30, so save the date!
With 13 active chapters throughout the Northeast, Kappa Delta Phi is a midsized fraternity that has adopted Homes for Our Troops as its favorite charity. In the 12 years since its founding, that not-for-profit organization has built more than 200 houses for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts who have major disabilities, such as traumatic brain injuries, amputated limbs, paraplegia or quadriplegia. And the vets don’t have to pay a thing.
“We all raise money for this charity,” explains James Variano, a sophomore who’s majoring in Economics at SUNY and was elected this year’s philanthropy chair for the Kappa Delta Phi chapter. “With the help of Northpoint Mortgage Company the Homes for Our Troops raises money to build mortgage-free homes for veterans…homes that are specially adapted for them.” The structures are designed to be totally handicap-accessible, with such features as wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, roll-in shower stalls, roll-under sinks and countertops and pull-down cabinets.
The March 30 fundraiser is being hosted by McGillicuddy’s Restaurant and Tap House, located at 84 Main Street in downtown New Paltz. “From 5 to 8 p.m., anyone who goes to eat there can tell the server that they’re donating, and McGillicuddy’s will give ten percent of the check to Homes for Our Troops,” says Variano.
“McGillicuddy’s has been very generous in helping us with our events. We usually do a few events with them a year.” Just a few weeks ago, he notes, fraternity members raised $125 for the charity simply by taking up an impromptu collection at the restaurant. With Variano and his Kappa Delta Phi brothers actively promoting the “Dine to Donate” event on the 30th, expectations are high that Paltzonians will make a special point of visiting McGillicuddy’s for dinner that night and chip in toward this worthy cause. “We had three vets in our fraternity at one point, so it’s really important to us,” he says.
Homes for Our Troops, whose slogan is “Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives,” received its fifth consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator in November 2015, Variano points out. This is the highest possible rating awarded to not-for-profits for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. For more information about the organization’s mission and activities, visit www.hfotusa.org.