Operation Northern Comfort prepares for first fundraiser

— If the crawfish is the official symbol of Operation Southern Comfort, then the salt potato is the emblem of its sister organization, Operation Northern Comfort.

“Operation Southern Comfort does a golf tournament every year called the Crawfish Open,” said Dick Bonanno, ONC’s coordinator. “Since that name reflects the southern influence, we said we needed a name with a northern influence. And what’s more Syracuse than salt potatoes?”

That’s why the organization’s first fundraiser, a golf tournament scheduled for this Saturday, has been named the Salt Potato Open. The event will raise money for Operation Northern Comfort’s efforts to provide labor and donations anywhere they’re needed in Central New York. A project of St. Joseph the Worker Church of Liverpool, ONC is dedicated to helping people throughout the community with projects big and small.

“One of phrases I like is neighbors helping neighbors,” Bonanno said. “Basically, we’re trying to reach out to some of the people that have, and I don’t like to use this phrase, but I think it applies in this case — people who have fallen through the cracks. You have people who can afford to do various projects and repairs. They have the funds to do it. And you have others that looking for help. Their income is such that it’s too much and they can’t get help from other organizations that are out there. They fall through the cracks and they’re looking for help.”

The Liverpool-based nonprofit, founded this past spring, follows the example of Operation Southern Comfort, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to building and repairing homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It’s a project of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Liverpool, which affords it non-profit status and the ability to get tax-deductible contributions and administrative support.

Operation Southern Comfort was started in 2006 by Liverpool resident Norm Andrzejewski, a Tulane graduate who’d spent time on the Gulf Coast in the 1960s. He made his first relief trip in response to a conversation with a friend, Donlene Butler, whose Belle Chasse, La., neighborhood had seen significant damage. Andrzejewski gathered a group of volunteers who spent five days cleaning up before heading home, determined to return.

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