American Legion Post Has Another Good Year of Supporting Children’s Organ Transplants

For Former Commander, the Effort Is Rewarding and Personal
Jan 09, 2019
Photo by: Supplied Photo Lenny P. Hart surrounded by some of the children who are either organ transplant recipients or are waiting for transplants.

People who care, and gave, added up to a $21,500 donation this past year alone by American Legion Post 493 of Little Egg Harbor, for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. COTA helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and support to the family.

For the past eight years, former post Commander Lenny P. Hart of Mystic Island has organized the fundraisers that brought in impressive amounts of donations. In 2017, those donations totaled $32,800.

How did he do it? By asking. Letters were sent out to American Legion posts around the state. “They collect all year, and at our fundraiser, they make the donations,” said Hart. So do committee members and others.

The donors are guests at the fall fundraiser, but the most special guests are the COTA kids, who come with their families and enjoy the day, which has all the makings of a party.

“We had 12 bands who donated their time, a petting zoo, Chinese auctions, a bake sale, donated food ...” Hart described.

The next fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 13.

The dear faces of the kids on the national website cota.org are inspiration and reward for donating. But to Hart, the involvement is personal.

“When our daughter passed away, we donated her organs,” he said.

That was August 1995, when 19-year-old Susan Ann Hart died of injuries from a car accident, and her father chokes up to this day when he tries to talk about it.

The emotion when the fundraiser makes a difference for ailing children due to the caring of many is quite different. Hart is the New Jersey state representative for Children’s Organ Transplant Associations.  
“It’s a feeling that everybody needs to feel,” he described. “You get so excited that you can help these kids out for another chance in life.”

One hundred percent of each contribution made to COTA in honor of the patients helps meet transplant-related expenses. Gifts to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. COTA helps bridge the financial gap between families’ abilities to pay and the huge cost of transplants. Transplant procedure costs range from $100,000 to more than $800,000. Once the transplant is complete, families face significant transplant-related expenses, including medication, transportation to and from the center, and lodging and expenses while parents are out of work and often living with the hospitalized child far from home. These out-of-pocket expenses add up to tens of thousands of dollars annually for transplant families with lifetime totals often exceeding $1 million, says COTA on its website.

Thankfully, people like those at local American Legion posts step in to raise funds.

COTA has received a commendation from the National Executive Committee of the American Legion. The American Legion and its affiliated organizations – the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion and the Legion Riders – have an overall goal of working for the betterment of veterans and youth in their communities.

— Maria Scandale
 
mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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