Angelo Appi set to lead team on Veterans Day project November 13

By Jenn McCulloch / • 03/11/2021 8:30 AM EST

When Angelo Appi found out that volunteers were needed for the Veterans Day project, he jumped at the chance. The event was started by Paulette DeMaio in 2014 with the goal of helping North Haven veterans clean up the fall yard.

Angelo first learned of the event from DeMaio’s husband as the couple went to school together. From the first year Angelo has been involved in the project and now, seven years later, he is a team leader, overseeing a large team of volunteers.

“I know a lot of people, I know how to network and I love to give back and help veterans, especially with this, as a lot of them are limited in their abilities of what they could do,” says Angelo. “My father is a Marine Corps veteran and retired from the New Haven Police Department and National Guard after serving 20 years.”

This year’s Veterans Day project will take place on Saturday, November 13, rain or shine. Volunteers will meet at North Haven Green, near the lookout. The volunteers then leave with their team or are assigned a team if they do not have one. Middle and high school students can earn hours of community service, although children who do not drive must be accompanied by an adult.

“Anyone looking to volunteer or if you know of any veterans who need help, you can contact us,” says Angelo. “Just bring a rake or a blower if you have one, go to the green and get assigned to a team. It feels good to go out and help people.

The Veterans Day Project has certainly helped many people over the years. At first, a dozen volunteers cleaned the yards of five houses. Today, just seven years later, there are over 200 volunteers serving nearly 40 homes.

“Over the years, as we got more and more overwhelmed with more and more properties, I started to network,” says Angelo, who owned an auto detailing business in town for 19 years. “He’s grown so much and it’s a great program. I don’t think she expected it to get that big.

Volunteers include individual local residents, as well as groups from Quinnipiac University churches, Boy Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports teams, sororities and fraternities, and more. There are also four local landscaping companies volunteering their time and equipment for the day: Iovanna Property Maintenance, Meadow View Lawn Care, Town Line Lawn Care, and DiTullio Landscaping.

Angelo’s team consists of around 60 people and will perform fall cleanups at 21 homes, traveling 20 miles across town, taking over half a million square feet of veterans property. He notes that “when we show up with about 30 cars, rakes and blowers, it’s a pretty impressive scene.” With such a large team working on each property, Angelo’s team is usually done by 2pm.

Several people have been part of Angelo’s team since the start of the event, including Dave Yaccarino, his daughter Gianna and his friends Marchella Bailey and Alysa Carangelo. The latter trio have been part of Angelo’s team from the start, when they were only 12 years old.

“These are three good racks,” Angelo said. “I tried to teach my daughter what my parents and grandparents taught me: respect your elders and these veterans fought for our country and it is thanks to them that we have the freedoms that we have today, so we give it back.

This is not the only way Angelo supports the community. Angelo is organizing a toy drive for WPLR, which raised $ 30,000 in toy donations. It all started 11 years ago when Angelo delivered a donated toy to Sports Haven. Now donations are not only dropped off at Angelo, but he also receives Amazon packages from people.

“It all started with a toy and now we come up with 30-foot car trailers and a police escort,” says Angelo. “The day after Thanksgiving I start networking and then before you know it I have stuff happening all over the place. “

As part of Operation Homefront, Angelo is collecting toys and school supplies for Gold Star families. At first, Angelo initially collected 50 backpacks, although his last personal best was 300 backpacks.

For now, Angelo is looking forward to serving on the Veterans Day project. This year he is looking forward to the event even more as they will once again be able to interact with each other. Last year due to COVID, volunteers still participated in cleanups, but could only see veterans through the window, offering a wave or a salute.

Normally, when the group is visited, the veteran or his widow often comes to visit. Over the years, Angelo has heard stories, seen photos, and been shown Purple Hearts or other medals.

Now, many veterans or widows of veterans stay in touch throughout the year or call when they need a helping hand. Angelo helped them with other needs such as clearing a driveway in the winter or needing a plumber.

“Seven years in the same house, you get to know people and that goes beyond the leaves. Now if they need anything, they’re going to reach out, ”Angelo said. “I have become friends with a lot of them, they invite me over for coffee or we have phone calls. If we do something for them, they think they owe us, but we owe them. Giving them back is good and very rewarding. They think they owe us what we do, but we say, “Thank you. “

For more information, check out “The Veterans Day Project” on Facebook or contact Paulette DeMaio at 203-824-6707 or [email protected]

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