PASR: Aid to troops more important than ever

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Having learned that the need is greater than ever among American forces stationed in Afghanistan, members of the Jefferson County chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees (PASR) will conduct their third county-wide “Support the Troops” campaign.

Throughout the month of October, area residents will be able to drop off hygiene and snack items in specially marked containers at four locations throughout the county. The participating sites include Comet Market and County Market in Punxsutawney; Mike’s BiLo in Reynoldsville; and the Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library in Brook-ville.

Each location will also have a supply of lists of the requested items. In addition to the public drop-off sites in the four communities, plans are being developed to have several groups of students in various schools also participate. Additional details will be released later. 
A recent e-mail from Kim Kordell, the coordinator of the Soldiers Angels group in Indiana through whom PASR sends the “goodies” boxes, reveals this sad information:  

“I just got the (monthly) list of chaplains, and it pains me to see the desperation they express for simple hygiene items. It seems as we draw down our troop numbers and cut spending, our soldiers in harm’s way are feeling abandoned. One of the chaplains wrote that their ‘post exchange is non-operational. Hygiene products of ALL SORTS for both MALE and FEMALE are a rarity, making it a real necessity (to seek help from support groups). We are visited by soldiers not only from our mother unit, but other units that are assigned as well. There are currently not enough resources to pass around to everyone since these items are a hot commodity.’ Can you believe it? Any donations that the public can provide will be so very well appreciated.’”

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 two 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. The chaplains tell us that the morale among the soldiers is low because they feel as though they have been forgotten.”
He added, “The need for public support is more important than ever. If the government isn’t doing its part as it should, I am certain that people around here will want to demonstrate their patriotism and their appreciation to our armed forces by helping to send many boxes of the supplies they need. Together, we can let the troops know that people do care about them.”

Organizers of the drive point out some basic guidelines for those contributing: Travel size or individual small packages are best because troops have little room in their backpacks to carry bigger items; and all items must be in the manufacturer’s original packaging. Those who do not wish to shop for the items might consider a cash donation to help cover the shipping costs of $1 per pound. All contributions, including merchandise and monetary gifts, must be turned in by Oct. 28.

Anyone desiring more information should call the project coordinator, Charlotte S. Fye, at 938-6928.

Requested Items:

Requested items for Soldiers' Angels include:
FOOD — Pop Tarts, red licorice, ramen noodles, tuna (in a pouch, only); pudding cups, microwavable popcorn, chewing gum, granola bars, candy bars, instant oatmeal, soups in pop-top containers, instant soups in pouches; canned meats (no pork products), Jerky (beef, turkey or chicken). Single servings of macaroni-and-cheese, snack cakes (Little Debbies, etc.), Tootsie Rolls (candy and lollipops). 

Cheese spread (no aerosol cans), peanut butter (small jar or individual packets), hard candy (individually wrapped), powdered drink mixes (individual packets), Ziploc bags (sandwich, quart, gallon sizes: Troops use them to keep sand out of their things in the desert), snack sizes or small packages of cookies, crackers, pretzels, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, trail mix, nuts, pistachios, M&Ms, raisins, etc.

HYGIENE SUPPLIES (Toiletries should be travel-size) — Dental floss, wet wipes, disposable razors, nasal spray, lip balm, foot powder, facial cleansing pads, body wash, sun-screen, eye drops, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, body/hand lotion; Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizing lotion, toothbrushes (individually packed), hand sanitizer, soap, hand wipes, toothpaste and baby wipes.
FUN ITEMS — Frisbees, soccer balls, pens, basketballs, volleyballs, small games, DVDs, CDs, blank greeting cards with envelopes (for soldiers to send home), playing cards, baseballs, baseball gloves, stationery, hand-held games, disposable cameras, batteries: AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt.