Organization supports Western New York military families
Members of the Lewiston branch of RealtyUSA presented a $395 check Tuesday to Chris Kreiger, president and co-founder of WNY Heroes Inc.
The Williamsville-based organization provides direct financial assistance to returning soldiers. This includes support for rent, food and schooling.
"Myself being a veteran - 12 years in the Army Reserves - as soon as I heard about this organization, and the immediate help (it provides), and how many veteran friends that I have myself, I decided that this was right organization to do this," said RealtyUSA manager Gina Gigliotti.
The agency raised funds during its May basket auction. The public could visit the Center Street office and bid on prizes.
"The community was so involved," Gigliotti said. "We couldn't have asked for a better turnout. Next year we hope it's even bigger and better."
Last year, WNY Heroes gave away $80,000, all of which was raised through fundraisers and charitable donations.
"I have a lot of friends that were in the military, and I've seen them struggle. When I heard (WNY Heroes) was local and (funding) stays here, and you can watch where the money went, I thought it was awesome," Gigliotti said.
Kreiger said WNY Heroes works with local businesses to "adopt" struggling military families each Christmas. The non-for-profit is set to debut Operation Gold Star later this month in Angola. The camp is for children whose parents died serving this country in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Gigliotti said her co-workers had no qualms about donating money to WNY Heroes.
"As soon as I told them about it, we had a meeting about it. It was instant," she said. "As soon as I said what it was, and the mission statement, everybody was on board. So it was really neat."
RealtyUSA is located at 505 Center St. Visit online at www.RealtyUSA.com.
For more on WNY Heroes, visit www.wnyheroes.org.