11 July 2006

Vietnam Vet on Landstuhl Fundraiser: "We give them something the government can't give them - love"

I met Nick Mascolo of the BBC Salon in Tenafly, New Jersey while visiting my parents last Thanksgiving.

At that time Nick was working on a Christmas project for deployed troops, so naturally we got talking. I told him about Soldiers' Angels and he promised the next fundraiser would be for us.

Vietnam veteran Nick Mascolo knows the pain and loneliness of being a soldier injured in battle, fighting in a strange land far from home and the people he loves. Ever since then, Mascolo has dedicated himself to letting those troops know that the people back home care and thank them for their sacrifice.

Mascolo and his dedicated band of family, friends and volunteers -- including his more than 80-year-old mother -- were out on the sidewalk last week in front of his hair salon in downtown Tenafly, sewing booties and mittens.

For those unfamiliar with Mascolo, the scene was odd -- Vietnam vet and his elderly mother outdoors at the sewing machine, material and bundles stacked all around, in upscale Tenafly. But to those familiar with the BBC Salon, it was just Nick being Nick; he was concocting another scheme to help out his brethren soldiers.

Nick Mascolo at the sewing machine

Mascolo, 56, ( ... ) is currently working with Soldiers' Angels, a non-profit whose motto is "May no soldier go unloved."
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Soldiers' Angels requested large hand and foot coverings for the critically injured, because their extremities are often left unprotected. "Yesterday, we sewed about a dozen," says Mascolo, who plans to continue making them until the end of the month.

On a recent weekday morning, Mascolo and his crew moved the sewing machines onto the curb after the rains stopped. He and his mother sat and hemmed booties and mittens, attracting some attention from passers-by. "People just stop," says Mascolo, "It's a beautiful thing. One Saturday we collected $2,500.

"They see the old eccentric nut," he says self-deprecatingly, "It's a passionate thing. I won't take their money without signing a thank-you card, whether you believe in the war or not. I ask them to please fill out a thank-you card and with your signature." The cards then go with the bundles given to the soldiers.
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Mascolo wants the soldiers to know someone cares. "We give them something the government can't give them -- love. They'll know this didn't come from the Army," he says.

HOOAH, Nick! Thank you on behalf of Soldiers' Angels and our wounded and ill troops transitioning through the Landstuhl medical facilities in Germany.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post.

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