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Old Saybrook boy asks for holiday donations for veterans instead of birthday gifts

Owen Zavatone, 9, of Old Saybrook collected clothes and toiletries as holiday gifts for local veterans.

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. — A 9-year-old boy in Old Saybrook said no to birthday gifts again this year. Instead, he wanted donations to give to veterans this holiday season. 

In past years, he collected donations for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Owen Zavatone, 9, came from a military background. His grandfather served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. 

RELATED: Serving those who served | A holiday tradition for local veterans continues in Manchester

Naturally, he has grown a fascination with everything-military and wore a hat that once belonged to his Grandpa Leo. 

"Instead of giving me presents, I had my friends give stuff to the veterans," said Zavatone of Old Saybrook. 

Most boys his age are into electronics and toy figurines, but he is into thanking those who gave the ultimate sacrifice like his grandpa. 

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Recently having a COVID-friendly birthday party, he asked for presents not for him but for local veterans this year. 

From clothes to toiletries, Zavatone's young act of kindness has not gone unnoticed. 

"It's just my passion. I've always loved the military," added Zavatone.

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The donations were dropped off at the Southington American Legion. 

Steve Pintarich with the legion said the veterans' wishes were granted this season because everything they had asked for, Zavatone collected. 

"Their wants are a winter jacket, a pair of jeans, a boombox so they have music to listen to, electric razors," said Pintarich of the Southington American Legion. 

Watching their son from afar are Zavatone's parents who are blessed at how he is growing up to be.

"This is the third time we've done it in four years. And it was a sort of a meeting of the minds a couple of years ago, and he realized how good it felt to give back, and so we've continued the tradition," said Maureen Zavatone of Old Saybrook. 

RELATED: Community advocates working to create veterans apartments in Hartford to help combat homelessness

"We really have so much. We don't want for anything and we're very grateful to people who have sacrificed throughout our country's history and continue to do so," said Stefan Zavatone. 

The collected items will be brought over to the Rocky Hill Veterans Home on Sunday or Monday. 

Zavatone plans on continuing this tradition as long as he lives. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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