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$12,883 RAISED FOR VETS' HOME.

Byline: BETTIE RENCORET Senior columnist

PALMDALE - Palmdale Playhouse's production of a Vietnam War drama raised $12,883 for the William J. ``Pete'' Knight Veterans Home amenities fund, the fund's largest single donation to date.

The check represented a portion of the proceeds from ``A Piece of My Heart,'' about women during the Vietnam War, which played for three weekends during March and was accompanied by talks, concerts and related events.

``For the Playhouse's 10th-year anniversary, I think this donation and the play it represents mean a great deal,'' Mayor Jim Ledford said during the presentation at a City Council meeting.

The donation brings to about $97,000 that is being collected by a citizens committee to pay for amenities such as television sets, magazine subscriptions and gardening tools - items not covered by the veterans home budget.

``We found that the people at the Palmdale Playhouse, with their spirit and kindness, are just wonderful people. It became obvious to us after awhile that we were in the midst of a real family that cared about each other,'' said Tom Craft, a retired Navy officer and the citizen committee chairman.

``It was my fourth or fifth time to see the thing and I was so moved, sitting in the audience again, that tears streamed down my face. I was a little embarrassed until I looked at George (Palermo, leader of the Vietnam veterans group Pointman Antelope Valley) and I could see tears rolling down his cheeks, too,'' Craft said.

``A Piece of My Heart'' was first performed at the Playhouse in 1999, and was so well-received that staffers decided to bring it back, said Dea McAllister, Palmdale cultural arts/theater manager.

The producers and the city pledged a portion of all ticket sales to benefit the veterans home amenities fund.

Several of the cast members were present at the City Council meeting, along with committee members and Knight's widow, Gail. Construction on the home is expected to begin in summer 2007, with completion set for December 2008.

Ledford complimented the Lancaster Citizens Committee and Craft on their support for the project. ``We really wanted do this and we want it to go to our local veterans home,'' McAllister said. ``Now we want others out there to match this. I challenge everybody out there to equal or beat this amount.''

McAllister also presented Craft with a reproduction of a Vietnam memorial to be placed in the home when it is finished.

McAllister also said the Playhouse and the city are raising money for a smaller local replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

``We are going to have a Vietnam Memorial Wall of our own,'' she said.

Menus for the week at the senior life nutrition sites in Lancaster and Palmdale have been announced. All meals include bread, margarine and coffee, tea or milk, for a suggested donation of $2.

Monday: Hot turkey sandwich, juice, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, marinated beets, gelatin with fruit.

Tuesday: Braised beef and noodles, soup, zucchini squash, tossed salad, citrus cup.

Wednesday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn nibblets, three-bean salad, tomato juice, lemon pudding.

Thursday: Creole chicken, rice pilaf, soup, Normandy vegetables, cottage cheese, cookies.

Friday: Ham slice, sweet potatoes, corn chowder, stewed tomatoes, creamy coleslaw, banana.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Tom Craft, right, chairman of the William ``Pete'' Knight Veterans Home Citizens Committee, accepts a $12,883 contribution from Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and Palmdale cultural arts/theater manager Dea McAllister.

Bettie Rencoret/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 2, 2005
Words:584
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