Blue Star Mothers and Chautauqua Striders are teaming up for a third year to send overseas troops gifts for the holidays.
"It grows bigger every year," said Susan Rowley, president of Blue Star Mothers, Lake Erie New York Chapter Four. "More names, more addresses."
Blue Star Mothers is composed of military mothers with children deployed overseas. Starting in September, collection boxes were set up across the county to collect needed necessities for troops unable to come home for the holidays. Items collected range from white socks, beef jerk, toiletries, snack and breakfast foods, cards and letters, among other things. Last year nearly 600 packages were shipped overseas, and an estimated 600-800 packages will go out this holiday season.
Chautauqua Striders and Blue Star Mothers help load a van of donations for the troops.
P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach
"It's been overwhelming," Rowley said. "We could never do this without the community support."
Chautauqua Striders, an organization which sets up adults and college students with children in grades as young as second, helped with the collection efforts.
"Many of the kids (from Chautauqua Striders) are now deployed overseas," said Ben Lindquist, executive director at Chautauqua Striders. "This year it was a natural fit to align with Blue Star Mothers."
Chautauqua Striders use community volunteers to serve more than 1,800 youths and families each year. In their mission they strive to dedicate the mentoring and guidance of youth through education advocacy and athletics. Interested parties wishing to become a mentor can call Chautauqua Striders at 488-2203 or visit their website at chautauqua-striders.org.
Blue Star Mothers will be packing boxes to send overseas on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Kiantone Fire Hall. Anyone wanting to drop off donations should do so no later than 10 a.m. Anyone wishing to help should come by 9 a.m.
Blue Star Mothers adopted a platoon out of Fort Drum, and in addition to sending troops packages for Christmas, they send packages year-round. The flat rate military boxes cost $14.85 each, totaling $8,600 in shipping costs for this holiday season alone. People who wish to donate monetary contributions to help with sending items overseas can do so by writing a check to Blue Star Mothers NY4 at PO Box 162, Westfield, NY 14787.