Updated 10/07/2008 07:28 PM
Islander Launches Initiative To Help Local Soldiers, Their Families
The brother of a firefighter who died during the September 11th terrorist attacks wants to make sure Staten Islanders fighting overseas are taken care of – as well as their families back home. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report on the new initiative, called Operation Support.
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Marie Deleon's Willowbrook home is a display of pride and hope, from the service flag in the window, to the yellow ribbon on the porch.
Her 22-year-old son, Danny, is in Iraq on his second tour of duty.
"It's difficult everyday, emotionally, because I worry every day," said Deleon.
Deleon is not alone. There are more than 700 children in Staten Island who have a parent in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kuwait.
It's with them in mind, that Frank Siller launched a new campaign: Operation Support.
"If we find out that there is anything that they need, anything that our boys and girls over there need, we're going to make sure that they get it," Siller promised.
Siller is the founder of the Let Us Do Good Children's Foundation. His brother, Firefighter Stephen Siller, lost his life on 9/11 after running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center Site. Each year, thousands of people retrace those steps in the Tunnel to Towers run, including many members of the military.
"Why are they there?" Because we are so connected: 9/11, firefighters, what happened that day and our military are all interconnected," explained Siller.
The money raised though his latest effort will go to provide troops with anything from necessary equipment to care packages from home, arranged through Project Homefront.
"I think it helps to keep their morale up," said Deleon. "They know that people back home are thinking of them and support them and are praying for them.
The group also plans to help families struggling financially during the deployment. It will also help soldiers reacclimatize to civilian life when they get home and provide for the children of those who make the ultimate sacrifice. What's more, the money raised on Staten Island will stay on Staten Island, allowing neighbors to help neighbors.
Assemblyman Michael Carsick said that's a very typical thing for islanders to do.
"We take care of each other as family members and this is a perfect example of that," said Carsick.
Operation Support hopes to raise more than $100,000 this Veterans Day through a golf outing and charity dinner.
For more information, go to TunneltoTowersRun.org.