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A Big Thank You from our troops
from The Paper Mill Store
I am asking everyone who reads this article to send an item or items to our troops at the address provided here. As little as one tube of toothpaste or as many as 500 tubes — anything will help.
— Brian J. Cowie, founder The Paper Mill Store .com from November 2010.
At the end of last year I wrote an article describing how together, as Americans, we can help our troops to better cope with everyday life in Afghanistan. The overwhelming support the troops received from our readers is heart warming to us here at The Paper Mill Store, but more importantly it really made a difference to our military personnel deployed overseas.
To recap, last year we asked for your help in supporting our troops in Afghanistan by sending much needed supplies. By connecting with a second tour marine named Lance Corporal Corbin Celotto we identified a list of products sorely needed by our troops. We discovered that when our troops are in the field they often have a hard time getting important but “non essential” supplies like; tooth paste, foot powder, shaving cream, and hand sanitizer. We determined that by identifying a specific marine to send these items to we can by-pass the military hierarchy that makes it challenging to get the right supplies to the right soldiers when they need it. Our supply donation drive was a big success!
Lance Corporal Celotto is home, safe and sends his thanksI had the pleasure to sit with Cpl Corbin and get a first hand account of how much these care packages mean to our troops. First and foremost Corbin asked that I extend his personal thank you to all of you who sent goods and letters and he expressed the thanks of his fellow marines we helped by sending goods to him. He also reminded me that a lot of marines are still in Afghanistan today and even though he is done with his duty more marines still need our support.
Christmas comes early
It was December 2010 and gift boxes sent from our readers had begun to roll into Corbin’s tent during the previous weeks. Mail and supply delivery can be sparse and sporadic in military outposts. The military has many priorities and sometimes getting supplies to the troops falls behind. Even when supply trucks are scheduled, more than a few times these trucks are targeted and blown-up, leaving our men and women out of stock of many non-essential supplies.
During this time last year supplies had begun to run low and the Christmas holidays were approaching. The supplies sent by you, our readers, provided a much needed bridge between military provided supplies and the everyday needs of our soldiers. The 30 to 40 or so boxes of supplies that Corbin received served to create a PX type wall of supplies within the marine outpost housing. Our marines were out of government supplied foot powder, mouth wash, and other basics. But they did have a good supply of home sent goodies from our readers in sufficient quantities to get them through this tight time. As our wall of supplies started to deplete, government supplies began to catch up and their access to important supplies continued.
Corbin told me he also received many kind letters and notes from people wishing him well and sending thanks to all the troops. He was pretty surprised to receive these from folks he had never heard of who reached out to him and let him know that his efforts were appreciated and that his sacrifice was too. When I asked him, “Did it really help to get a letter?” He replied, “Yes. When you’re out there away from home, family and friends, knowing that people care about you and that their taking the time to write is a big help.” “I appreciated it.”
While I met with Corbin we were having a dinner at a local Connecticut restaurant owned by a friend. I saw first-hand the appetite of a 21 year old guy who’d been eating military food for the last eight months as he enthusiastically devoured halve a chicken in front of my eyes. The topic of military food came up and he talked of the monotony of MRE’s (meals ready to eat). Any opportunity to get a little change up in his diet was a good thing. The hard candies people sent to him made for perfect trading currency with local Afghan kids who sold kabobs by the handful. In fact a lot of the items all of us sent provided a nice bank of trading items that further helped the marines get the items they most needed when they needed them and allowed then to make friends with local kids by sharing candy and other fun items.
We can help again
To a lot of us who are not involved with military matters or have family members involved, the sacrifices of those serving can almost feel surreal and certainly distant from our own existence. I know this was true for me. As I wrote last year, supporting our men and women is removed from the individual opinions about the war. These men and women are serving our country and deserve our support in anyway it can be offered. It’s about supporting the sons and daughters, bothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and family which make up our armed forces. Everyone can help by sending simple items, which we have listed with this article. Support can be offered in kind words and letters of appreciation. Each of these simple tasks, according to Lance Corporal Celotto, mean more to our troops than most of us can imagine.