January 27, 2009
County Workers Rally around Army Platoon Posted on Afghan Frontier
Government workers are often stereotyped as boring bureaucrats who stick to the routine day in and day out, with little thought about the world beyond their cubicles. However, after serving as a member of the County Legislature for seven years, I can assure you that our county employees do not fit that mold. They are a caring, compassionate and patriotic group of people who consistently go above and beyond to help their neighbors and their countrymen.
You may recall that in a column last summer I shared with you “The Infantryman's Poem” which described the sacrifices made every day by the men and women of our Armed Forces. The article moved one of our employees, Donna Scanlon of the Community Development, Tourism, and Planning Department, to organize a way for county employees to support the troops.
After reading the poem, Donna contacted AdoptaPlatoon and enlisted the help of county workers in all departments to support a platoon. She quickly energized a group of assistants to organize collections at our county office buildings and facilities.
Thanks to Donna's initiative, the 31 soldiers of the U.S. Army's C Company, 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion in northern Afghanistan are now receiving packages every month to make their lives a little more comfortable.
Our platoon is located at small outposts in the northern frontier of Afghanistan. They live in hardened shelters, when available. They have no running water. They use water drums to supply water for showers. They have generators that provide power so they are able to use CD players and personal electronic devices.
Since October, our group has mailed 41 boxes, totaling 475 pounds, at a cost of $449. The shipments included several boxes of gloves, hats, at least 16 blankets, Christmas decorations and candy, warm socks, personal items, snacks, candy, beef jerky, games, CDs, DVDs, pillows and other items. One employee donated a handmade fleece blanket. Members of the County Legislature passed the hat and contributed more than $230. One of our employee unions, the Oswego County Professionals Association, held a raffle and donated the proceeds.
Even members of the public have helped out. An anonymous customer at the Pulaski DMV office donated a $20 bill to cover postage.
A few weeks ago we received some Christmas cards from the soldiers, assuring us that our packages are being delivered. Their messages were humbling and very touching.
“On behalf of my platoon, I want to say thank you so very much for everything you and your county (have) done to support us,” wrote one officer. “… You have no idea how much this all means to us!”
Others wrote, “Thank you very much for everything you have sent to us. It really boosts our morale…” and “The soldiers have greatly appreciated your moral support and loving gratitude.”
Our soldiers are from all over the United States. They were deployed from Kansas City, MO about a year ago and they are scheduled to return to the U.S. in May. We pray for the safe return of each and every one of them.
I cannot emphasize enough how grateful and proud I am of our county employees. Using their personal time to assemble and mail the packages, in only a few months they've donated hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to support our troops. Employees in every single building and county facility have supported this project.
If you are interested in helping, feel free to contact me at 349-8230 or by . The next shipment to Afghanistan is scheduled to go out on Feb. 10.
AdoptaPlatoon is a nationwide network, founded in 1998 by the mother of a soldier stationed in Bosnia. The organization supports all branches of the U.S. military and people can participate at many levels. To learn more about this organization, I encourage you to visit their Web site at www.adoptaplatoon.org
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