By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
While on duty recently at the Port Authority Police Department command at LaGuardia Airport, Sergeant Brian Vitale learned that rookie PAPD Officer Jessica Vaccaro’s family business — Vaccaro’s Bakery in Clark, N.J. — was facing closure, like many other small businesses currently struggling to survive the economic ravages of COVID-19.
Not only was this the long-successful business of a valued colleague that was now in jeopardy, it’s a bakery that Vitale and others in the command know well. Officer Vaccaro often brought the store’s tasty baked goods into the office on holidays and other occasions, part of her family’s commitment to providing for first responders.
So Vitale cooked up a plan. He teamed up with Sergeant John Garrone and Officers Anthony Espinal, Rony Moran and Thomas Guarnieri to collect donations from members of the LGA command. Within a few days, they had raised over $4,500. Vaccaro and her family responded with thanks, appreciation, and emotion.
“I’ve grown up around the bakery and have watched them give to other local police departments, fire departments, schools, and town functions,” said Vaccaro. “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.”
On Tuesday, her mother and her aunt FaceTimed the officers in the command to thank them for their generosity.
“When my niece told me about this, my husband and I were shocked,” her aunt, Eileen Vaccaro, 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 for the bakery this month.
“Officer Vaccaro 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, we are, and we always will be a team. That is the essence of the Port Authority.”