On Monday, Jeff Gural, the chairman of American Racing and Entertainment and owner of Tioga Downs, presented a $78,400 check to members of the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group's board of directors.

The donated funds came from proceeds from ticket sales for an Oak Ridge Boys concert held at the Nichols casino in August. Gural also donated an additional $10 per ticket, according to a release from Tioga Downs.

In a brief presentation, Gural said the casino tries to give back to the community where it can, a response made possible by "the tremendous support from people living in the Southern Tier."

Supporting the STVSG is a great way to thank those who keep us safe overseas, he said. Tioga Downs supported the group last year as well, donating $61,305 through funds raised from ticket sales for a Wynonna concert and additional per-ticket contributions from Gural, according to information from Tioga Downs.

"It's a pleasure for me to make this contribution," Gural said.

State Sen. Thomas Libous, who was in attendance Monday, applauded the group for its efforts in helping soldiers make the transition into life after they return from service overseas. "When they come back, many times, they're forgotten," he said.

Sue Margolius, secretary of the organization's board of directors, said she was "shocked" when she heard how much money the group would receive. The funds will go a long way toward the organization's mission to help serve current and former members of the military and their families once they return home from military service, she said.

The mission of the STVSG is to provide a network of resources for current service members, veterans and their families, Margolius said. The group helps with donations and loans when veterans need money to buy or rent a place to live, purchase groceries or other essential expenses. In the future, the group plans to help homeless veterans with housing, she said.

STVSG can also help direct veterans to organizations that can assist them with employment, reintegration, health care and navigating the government and veterans' benefits available to them, according to information from the group.

The organization serves Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties in New York and Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.