Thursday, September 2, 2004

Foundation to help soldiers

Group to send packages, letters

By Nancy Young
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Its goal is to better the quality of life for local residents, but the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty is going global this fall.

The foundation is partnering with UPS to take part in Operation Gratitude, a volunteer organization dedicated to sending care packages and letters of support to soldiers deployed overseas.

Operation Gratitude has already sent 21,149 care packages to individual soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Korea and to ships across the world, the group says.

The Community Foundation will host a gathering event on Sept. 11 at Lakota West High School. "We want to show our troops how much we respect them and appreciate their efforts," foundation President Patti Alderson said.

Project organizers hope the community will write letters of support to the troops, as well as donate items such as DVDs, CDs, disposable cameras, prepaid phone cards, non-perishable food, personal care items, new hats, gloves and T-shirts, and Beanie Babies. Cash donations will help pay for overseas distribution costs.

"Beanie Babies have proven very helpful to the soldiers to use as an icebreaker when they are assisting a child in the country in which they serve," Alderson said.

Operation Gratitude's mission has been to focus on troops who do not frequently receive letters or packages from home. Local residents may designate a unit or individual by contacting the Community Foundation. Items donated for the local project will reach troops during the upcoming holiday season.

Items may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Lakota West High School, at Union Centre Boulevard and West Chester Road.

For additional information, a complete list of requested donations, and to nominate a troop or unit to benefit from Operation Gratitude, visit or call the Community Foundation's office at 874-5450.

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