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Stories From Main Street: Volunteers Come Together To Help Sandy-Damaged American Legion Post

Paying It Forward Foundation Steps In To Fix Up Seaside Heights Post
American Legion Post 351 (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

American Legion Post 351 (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Volunteers have come to the aid of an American Legion post that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

As WCBS 880′s Sean Adams first reported in May, the American Legion Post 351 in Seaside Heights sustained about  $200,000 in damages. Superstorm Sandy ripped the roof off the building and flood waters poured in from above and below.

Post Commander Bill Kevish put out an urgent call for help and many answered.

“A lot of people that did come down here and volunteer did hear it on the radio,” Kevish said. “In church, people were saying, ‘Bill, I heard you on an interview with CBS.”

The damages, however, weren’t covered by insurance.

Now, the Paying It Forward Foundation has stepped up and taken charge to fix the American Legion post for free.

Gina and Peter Cavallo, founders of the Paying It Forward Foundation, said they started the organization by chance.

LINK: Paying It Forward Foundation

“I was in between jobs and I was like, ‘I just can’t sit around,’” Gina Cavallo said. “We started gutting homes from house-to-house throughout Ortley and Lavalette, we were ripping houses apart. My intention was only to help for about a month, give or take.”

But a couple whom they helped, turned around and gave them seed money for a new non-profit.

“I had no intention, nor did I foresee, that we were going to have an organization,” Gina Cavallo said.

What started as a one-time volunteering effort has turned into a full-time mission of mercy.

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“Who ever thought that coming down with a couple of truckloads of clothes and water and supplies would have came to this now,” Peter Cavallo said. “From we see we have years of work ahead of us.”

“My husband and I got married last October two weeks before Superstorm Sandy so this has literally been our honeymoon,” said Gina Cavallo.

The United Way, Team Rubicon, Seton Hall University Students and volunteers from McGuire Airforce Base have joined up with the Paying It Forward Foundation to fix up the American Legion post.

“If somebody asks for help, you give it,” said Tech Sgt. Conor Gray.

“We’re going to see the veterans back home. It’s the least we could do for them giving us our freedom,” Gina Cavallo said.

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