Officers from the Port Authority Police Department spent their Easter delivering baked goods to Elmhurst Hospital and other medical facilities that have been overwhelmed with the surge of COVID-19 patients in New York and New Jersey.
While on duty recently at the PAPD command at LaGuardia Airport, Sergeant Brian Vitale learned that rookie PAPD Officer Jessica Vaccaro’s family business was facing closure, like so many other small businesses impacted during the pandemic. Vitale began collecting donations from fellow officers to purchase baked goods for distribution to the beleaguered hospitals.
“Officer Vaccarro is one of our own and we take care of our own,” Vitale said. “From the words of our Chairman and Executive Director, we were, and are, and always will be a team. That is the essence of the Port Authority.”
Within a few days, Vitale and his fellow officers raised more than $6,500 at the PAPD LGA command and other PAPD commands.
“I’ve grown up around the bakery and have watched them give to other local police departments, fire departments, schools and town functions,” Vaccaro said. “When I got hired by the PAPD, they didn’t hesitate to give to us, too. To see my co-workers come together and support the bakery really shows how family supports family.”
Vaccaro’s mother and aunt FaceTimed the officers in the LGA command to thank them for their generosity.
“When my niece told me about this, my husband and I were shocked,” her aunt, Eileen Vacarro, said. “We are all hurting right now, and for these officers who put their lives on the line every day and for them to do this for us, we couldn’t be more grateful. They’re incredible.”
She said the donations help pay the bills at the Vaccaro Bakery in Cark, N.J., for a month.
“Our courageous officers have been on the front lines since day one, and today these same officers have gone above and beyond by showing their compassion for their fellow frontline partners who have endured through the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing them a bit of Easter cheer,” PAPD Superintendent Edward T. Cetnar said. “We sincerely appreciate everything our healthcare heroes have done during these challenging times.”
A team of officers delivered the baked goods to Elmhurst Hospital, which has been at the epicenter of the crisis.
“The commitment and dedication of hospital personnel has not only been an amazing display of courage, but a true demonstration of selflessness,” Port Authority PBA President Paul Nunziato said. “They have never hesitated to come to our aid; it is now our duty and desire to provide for them. While we stand strong on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines, I remind all that during this holy season of spiritual freedom and rebirth it is the medical personnel who bring a new freedom and rebirth to those in need. We are blessed by their service.”