Meadville Tribune

Local News

December 4, 2011

Project Support Our Troops needs your support

VERNON TOWNSHIP — “We try not to forget them,” Kim Straughn of Meadville said of why she was packing the small white box Saturday morning with play cards, toiletries, snacks and other small items to boost the morale of U.S. military men and women serving overseas.

However, Project Support Our Troops is in danger of not making its goal of sending out 800 care packages this Christmas to active-duty American troops stationed overseas.

It’s not for a lack of volunteers, but a lack of items.

“Right now, we need items,” said Laurie Davis, one of the organizers of Project Support Our Troops, the local all-volunteer effort. “It’s typical of our first packing. I think people don’t realize Christmas is coming so quickly and we have to have time to get the boxes shipped.”

The group hopes to send out a total 800 Christmas care packages between Saturday’s event and one this Wednesday night, but right now there’s not enough donated items to fill that many boxes.

Davis said the group wanted to fill about 400 boxes during Saturday’s packing session at Veterans of the Vietnam War Post 52 in Vernon Township, but only about 225 care packages were put together.

Kim Lengling, another of the Project Support Our Troops organizers, hopes the public will respond.

“We want people to give until it hurts — they (military personnel) give until it hurts when it comes to protecting our freedom,” said Lengling.

“It’s overwhelming how much the community can come together to help,” said Straughn, who got involved in the packing effort a few years ago. She did so as a way to show patriotism when her daughter did her high school senior project on Support Our Troops.

Straughn’s daughter, Amanda Bowman, 20, has been in the U.S. Navy for about the past 18 months and currently is serving overseas as a yeoman, while Straughn’s son, Cory Bowman, 23, has been in the Navy four years and is a hull technician.

Giving up a little bit of time, buying a few items and helping pack boxes is a small price to pay to boost the morale of a soldier, sailor or airman serving overseas, said Brandie Olsen of Cochranton.

Olsen recently joined a military support group, Navy for Moms, since her son, Zackery, will join the Navy this coming June.

She was looking for an organization where she could aid in some way those in the military when she came across Project Support Our Troops.

“They’re helping to keep our freedom, this is the least I can do,” Olsen said.

Crawford County has fewer than 800 active duty military personnel overseas, but the boxes aren’t just for those in the military from Crawford County or even Pennsylvania. It’s the morale boost the small, item-filled box gives to any military recipient that’s most important, according to Davis.

“When we send to people serving, we don’t say it’s just for Crawford County or Pennsylvania (personnel),” said Davis. “Those serving from Pennsylvania aren’t going to say they’re just going to protect Pennsylvania — they’re protecting everybody.”

While Christmas is the main focus by Project Support Our Troops, the group also continues to send about 100  boxes per month throughout the year.

“It’s never too late to donate,” said Davis. “What doesn’t go out at Christmas will go out in January or the next month.”

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