It’s been nearly a year since a utility room fire destroyed both Operation Adopt-a-Soldier’s headquarters in Wilton and the thousands of boxes already packed and ready to send to soldiers.
“That fire got in there and it took the Wilton fire department and several other departments five or six hours to put it out,” said Bruce Duxbury, co-chair of OAAS. “The fire took everything.”
This Saturday, two days’ shy of the fire’s one year anniversary, the organization will hold a donation drive at its temporary home at 891 Saratoga Road in Ganzevoort, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While the organization started small with a family sending a package to their son in Afghanistan, it now ships more than 3,500 boxes a year to soldiers serving around the world. Boxes contain everything soldiers may not be able to get where they’re deployed – such as candy to card games or flip-flops to Frisbees.
Saturday’s event will be an opportunity for people to donate the many little goodies that OAAS gets requests for from soldiers, families, and chaplains. Duxbury said anyone who wants to donate can drive up to their temporary location where volunteers in masks will be there to collect donations from cars.
The Aug. 17, 2019 fire that destroyed the headquarters put the charity in a bind. It also destroyed 260 packed boxes that were ready to be sent to soldiers.
Local businessman Richard Woodcock has provided OAAS with its temporary location in an empty building that he’s been trying to sell.
Even with the generous donation of space, Duxbury said the organization is “limping.” Its shipments have been smaller, and its temporary headquarters is in a building up for sale.
“We could get a call at any time saying, ‘You have 30 days to get out,’ if somebody came and bought this building,” Duxbury said.
While the coronavirus initially halted the usual packing parties that OAAS held, volunteers are still sending out boxes. One recent shipment to Greenland contained 300 cases of Girl Scout cookies.
“We do a lot with the 109th Air Wing in Schenectady, and they send a big contingent of troops to Greenland to work with the scientists out there,” said Duxbury. “We happen to have a big infusion of Girl Scout cookies, so we sent about 300 cases of Girl Ccout cookies to Greenland with the 109th Air Wing.”
For more information about OAAS, visit its website at operationadoptasoldier.org