“Watching the sun rise over the City of Plattsburgh, I’m already getting that feeling, the feeling of this community coming together to give back to it’s veterans,” said Sargent.
With the unseasonable warm front which came into the Champlain Valley the previous night, came the threat of severe thunderstorms.
“That’s the only thing that will get me down from here,” said Sargent: “Lightning.”
Below the monument, a small army of volunteers from the Clinton County Veteran’s Service Agency, many of them disabled veterans themselves, proudly wearing hats denoting their service in Vietnam or Korean, collected money from passing motorists. By 7 a.m. the line of traffic waiting to donate money stretched beyond the block in both directions. Plattsburgh city police and firefighters also assisted with traffic control.
WOKO also had two dedicated phone lines for call-in donations.
For donations over $100, Sargent would wave an American flag out the tiny observation window and sound an air-horn. The first donation to reach WOKO by phone was for $500.
He hoped to be down, with nearly $20,000 raised for the new van, by 2 p.m.. However, as the clock ticked past 4 p.m., and with storm clouds approaching, they had raised in the neighborhood of $16,000, still slightly short of their goal.
Then Plattsburghburgh businessmen Bill and Brian McBride of McBride Subaru stepped up to the plate with a double barreled donation. They pledged to make up whatever the shortfall was between what had been raised and the $20,000, and also to provide the new van at a drastically reduced rate through their dealership. Effectively, between the cash raised and the donation on van, WOKO raised $30,000 for the DAV.
“They’re great guys, a great family, and they wanted to be a part of it,” Pelkey said. "It’s really nice to bring people together to help those who served them.”
The van will be built at the factory according to specific DAV specs, then delivered to the Clinton County Veteran’s Service Agency.