Weekly Feature



2011-01-27 / Lifestyles

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

American Legion Post 735 seeks names of WS soldiers
by KRISTEN KOTZ Reporter

Harold Wohlfeil, commander of American Legion Post 735; member James Manley; and treasurer Edward Pfeiffer are pictured with items collected to send to troops in Afghanistan. Photo by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Harold Wohlfeil, commander of American Legion Post 735; member James Manley; and treasurer Edward Pfeiffer are pictured with items collected to send to troops in Afghanistan. Photo by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com In an effort to show their support, members of American Legion Post 735 are seeking the names of West Seneca soldiers deployed overseas and are collecting items to send to them.

James Manley, a member of Post 735, said the Support Our Troops Committee was started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The committee collects comfort items for soldiers such as baby wipes, socks, shaving supplies and candy. It also worked to get seat cushions for the 618th Infantry soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. The soldiers wanted them because there were no seat cushions in the military-equipped Hummers used for patrol, making the long hours spent in the vehicles very uncomfortable.

“The idea of sending these materials over to them is to give them a piece of home and to give them comfort,” Manley said, adding that the committee tries to reach soldiers from West Seneca. “This is what it’s all about,” he said. “Taking care of people in our town.”

Shipping the boxes overseas typically costs between $25 and $35 per box, which cuts into a lot of the money the group earns at its fundraiser.

The Support Our Troops committee will host a fundraiser from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at the post, 35 Legion Parkway, West Seneca. Admission is free.

The event will coincide with the first day of NASCAR, and the committee will be raffling off NASCAR memorabilia such as drivers’ hats and T-shirts. There will also be a 50/50 raffle as well as a Chinese auction. Food will be available for purchase.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the purchase of items to send overseas and to help cover the shipping costs.

Recently, West Seneca East Senior Mike Zarbo made it a class project to collect items that could be sent to soldiers overseas. He then gave the items to Post 735, which will package and ship them.

Manley is also the chief of staff for Erie County Legislator Christina Bove. He said that her office has begun something called Operation Easter Basket. As part of the project, it is asking for donations to help prepare Easter baskets for deployed soldiers. All items collected will be sent to West Seneca men and women currently serving in Afghanistan. Anyone with names of deployed West Seneca soldiers can e-mail their names to Manley at James.Manley@erie.gov.

Items that are welcome for Operation Easter Basket include magazines, cards, crosswords, soaps and detergents, medicines (Tums, Advil, Imodium, sinus medication), socks, bath mats, combs, washcloths, sunscreen, hair brushes, flip-flop footwear, shoe inserts, travel-sized hygiene products (such as shampoo, deodorant, baby wipes, shaving items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, eye drops, nail clippers, lip balm and foot powder), instant coffee, dried fruit, instant soups, tuna, tea bags, power bars, instant cocoa, canned fruit, spices, condiments, wrapped snacks (not chocolate), disposable cameras and phone cards.

Items will be accepted until Friday, April 1. Items should be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday through Friday at the office of Legislator Christina Bove, 1104 Union Road, which is in Southgate Plaza.

“Let us send our soldiers a little bit of home at Easter time with ‘Easter baskets’ filled with needed items, treats and good wishes,” Bove said. “Let them know that we are thinking about them and want to say thank you for their service to our country.”

Manley said items such as baby wipes are helpful to the troops because they are not always able to take a bath when they want to, and the baby wipes allow them some comfort and gives them a chance to freshen up.

“We want them to know we remember them and appreciate what they do,” he said.

He added that this type of effort transcends political boundaries because all people can appreciate that members of the military fight for our freedom.

“We ask everyone to continue to remember and support our troops,” Manley said.

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