Blue Star moms send love (and cookies)
COLONIE, Nov 11, 2012 (Menafn - Times Union - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --A few times a year, U.S. troops in the Middle East can look forward to a treat from the Northeast: it is again that time of year, when a local group of military moms pack up boxes of goodies to ship to servicemen and women on duty.
On Saturday, the Capital Region NY2 Blue Star Mothers kicked off their annual Holiday Freedom Box drive at Colonie Center. This year, the group anticipates shipping more than 700 "Freedom Boxes" to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, containing everything from Girl Scout cookies (a favorite among the troops) to practical items like baby wipes, which are handy to keep clean during sometimes lengthy stretches between showers, as well as to clean sand and grit out of weapons.
To give each box a dose of holiday cheer, each also comes with some sort of holiday handicraft -- perhaps a felt Christmas tree or Santa -- made by one of the group's youngest volunteers.
"We're packing for soldiers we may never meet," said Susan Lake-Ayala, a Blue Star mom who spoke at the kick-off ceremony for the drive. "That's OK."
The group recommends donating items like cookies and crackers, microwave cups of mac and cheese, playing cards, energy bars, and toiletries, as well as disposable cameras. Blue Star Mothers is also accepting cash donations to help defray the 11.35 postage cost of shipping each box.
Saturday's kick-off fanfare was complete with a performance by the Christian Brothers Academy Marching Band, Siena College ROTC color guard, Clifton Park Community Chorus and a speech by newly re-elected U.S Rep. Chris Gibson.
"We just didn't have these kinds of support mechanisms when we were serving," said Bill Schaaf, assistant state captain of the Patriot Guard Riders, which provided the ceremonial flag line for Saturday's event.
Lake-Ayala's son, an Air Force crew chief, is stationed in South Korea. But he has also been stationed in Iraq, and she has counted herself among the thousands of parents who worry every time a news article lists casualties. Blue Star Mothers is a support group, but it's also a means through which to show her support for her son and others serving in the military.
"I'm proud of him," said Lake-Ayala. "I'm proud of all of them. They're all in harm's way, away from their families."
To make donations to the holiday drive contact the Blue Star Mothers directly at email@example.com.
firstname.lastname@example.org --518-454-5035 --@kristenvbrown
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