MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A gigantic American flag blew in the warm breeze over South Lake Boulevard Saturday, July 14, as volunteers stood in the streets taking donations from motorists passing by the Mahopac Marine.
It was all part of the fourth annual Armed Forces Appreciation Festival, a celebration overseen by the Melchner family—owners of Mahopac Marine. The event was the brainchild of Charlie Melchner Jr., born out of his deeply ingrained patriotism and a desire to help out U.S. vets.
Melchner conceived of the idea several years ago along with his friend Rich Castellano. Every penny raised goes directly to veterans’ groups such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
The marina grounds on Saturday were covered with displays of military vehicles and equipment, as well as booths touting the services of veteran advocacy groups and local civic organizations such as the Mahopac Lions Club. Volunteers from Crossroads Deli were on hand to cook up hot dogs and hamburgers for attendees.
Last year, the fundraising surpassed $8,700.
“It’s not the profits that are given away—everything is. All the proceeds,” Melchner said.