Postal workers will have to put in some patriotic overtime when they get the 700 care packages filled this weekend at the Colonie Center.
The Capital Region NY2 Blue Star Mothers, all with children serving in the military, teamed up with the Colonie Center to solicit donations Saturday and today for Holiday Freedom Boxes for 700 deployed troops. The mothers also need cash donations to defray the $10.95 shipping cost per box, and items including candy, toiletries and disposable cameras.
In an attempt to drum up interest Saturday, a string of performers including students from the Catskill Elementary School performed at Center Court. When the Catskill students sang their array of songs, at least 50 shoppers on both levels of the mall stopped to listen.
New York Army National Guard SFC Scott Leslie, 30, was at the Center on Saturday to express his gratitude for receiving one of the boxes. Dressed in camouflage and addressing a crowd, he said soldiers really appreciated this type of gesture. He received his box while serving in Afghanistan from September of 2009 until March of 2010.
“It’s very heartwarming,” Leslie said. “It reminds you of the support.”
He described the boxes as an easy way for people to get involved and feel like they’re contributing to the war effort. He characterized the boxes as a sacrifice of civilians that was “more than sufficient.”
Leslie said in some cases the soldiers received personal messages from complete strangers that people would add. After this holiday push with the boxes, Leslie said he hopes that people continue to think about the troops and their sacrifice.
Janet Moran of Charlton, a Blue Star Mother, was busy Saturday supplying children from Catskill Elementary with plastic bags to fill with candy. The bags then joined everything from beef jerky to playing cards in medium flat-rate boxes donated by the U.S. Postal Service. On Saturday the boxes were being filled behind the scenes by volunteers, working assembly line style.
In total, Moran estimated that the contents of one box were worth about $20.
“We’ve learned over the years what to pack,” she said. Part of the reason the mothers know what to pack is because they just think about what their own children in the military would want.
Moran got involved with the local chapter about three years ago and has a son currently in Missouri and in his 16th year of service. He received a box about two years ago when he was in Afghanistan.
“Probably we’ll make our goal,” said Moran of the 700 boxes they need to fill. She said people are very supportive of their cause, but stressed that they need donations all year because they’re always sending the packages.
As for who can receive the boxes, Moran said, “Our only criteria for sending a box is if they’re deployed.”
Today’s events will begin at noon in the Center Court and will include an appearance by Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, also a veteran. For information on the Capital Region Blue Star Mothers go to capitalregion2bsm.org.
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