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Operation Northern Comfort prepares for first fundraiser

— Since then, OSC has made more than 35 trips to the Gulf Coast, with some 1,850 volunteers working on more than 300 projects. Most have headed back to Louisiana, though two groups have gone to Gulfport, Miss. All trips are funded by traveler contributions; each volunteer is asked to pay $280 for their own expenses, room and board. Local contributions pay for construction materials.

Bonanno is himself a Southern Comfort alum; that’s how he found his way to ONC.

“I went to New Orleans a couple of times,” he said. “He told me about Northern Comfort because I was looking for something to do locally rather than commit to a whole week in New Orleans. There were a few others who were looking for the same thing, so I kind of joined with them. The two others that were leading it — Maria Murphy has decided to go back to college, and Matt Vanderwerken has joined the Peace Corps, so Norm has asked me to take it over.”

OSC also provided the inspiration for the Salt Potato Open.

“The golf tournament is always fairly successful for Southern Comfort in raising funds,” Bonanno said. “The money we raise will go towards procuring materials for the houses and to support the work we’re doing. Since they’ve been fairly successful for Southern Comfort, we thought we’d give it a try.”

The tournament will take place at Foxfire at Village Green in Baldwinsville. Shotgun start at 1 p.m. The fee is $90 per golfer, which includes green fees, cart and dinner. There will be different prizes awarded for various golf games played throughout the day.

In addition to golfers for Saturday, ONC is in desperate need of volunteers with a particular skill set.

“Right now, we have a crying need for individuals who are willing to donate their time who have construction skills, almost on the level of a contractor. We need people who can look at a project and say, ‘This is what needs to be done,’ who can see the steps need to be taken and can direct people on how to do it,” Bonanno said. “We’ve got a lot of people who are like me, kind of handymen who can fix little things around the house. But to take a structure where the porch is falling off and know how to go about putting it back together, we need those talents and we need people who can donate their time to lead a project. We’re getting so many requests for help, but we don’t have all the talent necessary to do that.”

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