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PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Spring traditionally is regarded as the season of hope, so that is why members of the Jefferson County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees (PASR) are once again sponsoring a drive to Support the Troops.
From now through April 30, the organization, in cooperation with five donation sites throughout the area, will be collecting hygiene and snack items to send to members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan.
Charlotte S. Fye, campaign coordinator, said, "The chaplains to whom we send the items for distribution to the soldiers tell us that the little things we take for granted here every day are really luxuries for the troops.
â€œEvery box of goodies they receive serves as a reminder that there are people back home who think about them and care about their well-being. By sending another supply of the most-requested items, we are mailing them visible signs of hope that they are safe and that they soon will be home."
Fye reported that the Soldiers' Angels group in Indiana through which PASR sends the donations for packing and shipping recently received a letter from the Wing Chaplain at Victory Chapel in Afghanistan.
He wrote: "Thank you so much for the bounty of gifts to Jack's Cafe. This is an extraordinary blessing to the troops here at Victory Chapel. Your thoughtfulness of the personal needs of our warriors, combined with the kindness you have shown, has made an enormous difference in the day-to-day lives for our service members. Your contributions have helped improve the morale of deployed military personnel and provided a reminder of home..."
He also attached a list of items that the troops
particularly want and need. These include toiletries and food: Deodorant, shampoo/conditioner; cakes of soap; body wash; lotions (Vaseline, Aveeno, etc.); hair gel; feminine products; toothpaste; mouthwash; razors; microwave popcorn; candy; cookies; and other snack items. Because of the intense heat at this time of year in Afghanistan, chocolate is not a practical gift, but the soldiers really enjoy M&Ms and Reese's Pieces because they travel well in spite of the temperature. Also, many soldiers report that Wet Wipes are very useful in many situations.
"One of the most important reminders we can share with area residents who want to make donations is that the small sizes of all items are best. Travel sizes and toiletries from hotel stays are ideal. The smaller packages of merchandise from the shelves are best because soldiers have limited space in their backpacks to take toiletries and snack items with them. Instead of buying bigger packages, please contribute several small ones instead," Fye explained.
All merchandise should be in the manufacturers' original wrapping or package.
Throughout the month of April, area residents will be able to drop off hygiene and snack items in specially marked containers at five locations throughout the county.
The participating sites include Comet Market and County Market in Punxsutawney; Mike's BiLo in Reynoldsville; the Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library in Brookville; and the Depot Social Center in Brockway. Each location will also have a supply of lists of the requested items.
Chapter president Gordon Stuby said, "We hope that our Jefferson County residents will once again generously respond to this project, as they have in the previous three campaigns. Little things like toothpaste, toiletries and snacks may not seem to be too significant to us because we take them for granted. But, if those items can make life a little bit more pleasant for our troops, then the people back home will want to do all they can to help."
Those who do not wish to shop for the items might consider a cash donation to help cover the shipping costs of one dollar per pound. All contributions, including merchandise and monetary gifts, must be turned in by April 30.
Anyone desiring more information should call the project coordinator, Charlotte S. Fye, at 938-6928.