Local veterans aid Operation Troop Appreciation

Published Mar 27, 2013 at 11:32 am (Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 11:32 am)

Local veterans spent a recent Saturday packing boxes with toiletries, candy and wish list items for a younger generation of Americans fighting far away from home.

“There was nothing like this for us,” said Bob “Bullet” Daley, a WWII Marine veteran, who fought in the battle of Saipan.

Daley, a member of Bethel Park American Legion Post 760 and the Marine Corps League Detachment 726, along with other veterans from those organizations and members of the legion auxiliary and the Sons of the Legion, volunteered with Operation Troop Appreciation to pack the boxes for troops serving overseas. The groups also made donations to help defray the cost of shipping the care packages.

“We know exactly what they are going through,” Daley said. “They deserve it and we are happy to do it for them.”

A banner signed by members of Post 760 and Valentines made by local school children were also sent to the troops.

Operation Troop Appreciation, a national organization which was started in 2004, is dedicated to building and sustaining the morale of deployed troops, enabling them to complete their missions with the assurance that the American public supports and appreciates their selfless service and daily sacrifices. The organization is operated completely by volunteers, with 98.5 percent of the donations going directly to the troops.

The organization takes requests from deployed troops and sends them requested items, such as fire proof clothing and other items to supplement military issued supplies, as well as personal care items that troops assigned to outpost areas can’t purchase. In addition, the organization sends snacks, DVD movies and gaming systems.

What the group needs most are donations to purchase the items and funds to ship the boxes, said Monica Orluk, president and chief operating officer – shipping costs are approximately $3,500 a month.

Bethel Park Legion members plan to stay involved with the organization, said John Normile, commander of the post.

The packages are a “big time morale booster” for the troops and “our way of saying thank you for what you are doing,” said Normile.

The group operates out of a donated retail space at Century III Mall in West Mifflin. The space serves as the group’s headquarters and also houses displays of military history, and is staffed by volunteers from noon-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays. – Susan Schmeichel

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