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December 10, 2016
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Teddy bears to troops in Afghanistan

Their smiling, expectant faces in the photographs belie the nature of the danger faced by those who comprise the 101st Airborne Division in one of the most inhospitable countries that lies half way around the world—Afghanistan.

While President Obama may have re-defined the nature of the military’s role in Afghanistan, these young men know that they must remain vigilant, aware that if they let their guard down, they can be hurt or killed.

Residents of the Town of Highland have supported these troops through the Americans Supporting Americans Adopt-a-Unit program. Those who are in the program say the best way to serve “their soldiers” is to bring a little bit of home to the desolate, barren region where the soldiers are stationed. Photographs sent back show the troops in a stark area known as Kunar Province, but spirits are high, as can be deduced by broad smiles.

According to Peter D. Carmeci, of the Tusten-Highland-Lumberland VFW Post 6427, the troops are appreciative of the little things the town has done, such as shipping over newspapers from the area, sports magazines, homemade food and the like; the gifts help them to deal with the task at hand, which can be described as difficult at best.

Carmeci spoke before the town board at the meeting on March 12 and made an unusual request to the people of Highland. These brave young men are asking for, among other things, teddy bears and stuffed animals. Carmeci explained that the troops give the stuffed toys to local children as a goodwill gesture.

The troops also crave a bit of home cooking. More specifically, the troops crave homemade cookies—the kind that moms bake. Carmeci told the residents of Highland and parts nearby to fire up their ovens and bake chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, so the troops can go on helping our country through whatever trials the Pentagon has planned for them. Residents are asked to drop off homemade cookies at the Eldred Town Hall between April 1 and 4.

Councilwoman Mandy Scully felt so moved that she asked if she were to bake cookies would they reach the troops in sufficient time to retain the flavor. Scully was reassured that the cookies would be mailed on April 5 and in the hands of the soldiers as soon as possible. She further asked, “Would they take teddy bears that were “‘gently used?’” Carmeci answered in the affirmative.

Supervisor Andrew Boyar urged the town to get involved with the process. He has supported the project since its inception. “Drivers can have yellow stickers on their cars supporting our troops, but this is more tangible. With these packages, the troop feels less isolated,” he said.

Studies have indicated that troops such as the 101st Airborne Division see themselves as “blood” relatives and steadfastly look out for each other’s safety and consider themselves “family,” akin to the families they left behind in the U.S. The three platoons that compromise 68 soldiers are extremely close knit, said Carmeci.

Any questions can be referred to Doreen Hanson, town clerk, at 845/557-6085.