A community came together to help the widow of a World War II veteran by raking her leaves this week and vowing future help as well.
A group of about a dozen volunteers in North Haven, including Paulette DeMaio and Angelo Appi, Jr., said the woman lives alone, has been there for 40 years and has been unable to care for her lawn or even shovel out her mail box after a snowstorm.
Both said some of her neighbors even blew their leaves onto her lawn.
"It got to the point where when I would drive down the street I would know what house I was there to look at because it's usually the only unkept kind of house on the street," DeMaio said.
Appi and DeMaio also said the woman’s husband was a member of the 93rd Bomber Group, 328th Squadron. Overwhelmed by the attention after her story went viral, the woman asked that her identity not be revealed.
This week, the group of volunteers from the Knights of Columbus, various churches, organizations and high schools arrived to help her out.
They not only raked up her leaves, they promised to cut her grass, lay down fertilizer and plow her snow. They'll also help her with her groceries. All of it will be free of charge.
"This is the American way," Appi told Eyewitness News. "This is what we need to do for people. We need to look to our next door neighbors. We have elderly people. We have veterans. We have veterans' widows. We need to look out for each other."
The volunteers also said they replaced her outdoor lights with new LED lights to help her save on electricity.
"Our veterans deserve for us to appreciate them, to acknowledge them, to come along side them, and so it's just been a dream of mine," DeMaio said.
DeMaio was the one responsible for the big clean up.
To thank everyone, Appi said the woman went out of her way to bake them cookies.
"People end up doing above and beyond and coming back to do snow removal and gutter cleanings for them because the people just meet them and they fall in love with them," DeMaio said.
Appi wrote a heart-felt thank you to all of the volunteers on his Facebook page, in which he said he made a new friend.
“Every volunteer that helped today deserves a big pat on the back. Everyone did their equal share to give back to our veterans on Veterans Day,” he said. “Don't just thank me. Thank all of them, because we are all 1 team.”
Appi promised that he’d return to the woman and listen to more stories about her husband over a cup of coffee.
He said this was the second year that volunteers went around on Veterans Day. However, she said this one was much more personal.
"I would normally be cleaning my mother's house this time of year, be preparing her for the winter time, but now I met a new friend down the street," Appi said.
The volunteers who cleaned up the yard are also collecting Christmas cards for veterans. Anyone wishing to send cards, can mail them to P.O. Box 473 Northford, CT 06472.
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