Volunteers Pack Holiday Boxes for Troops Overseas
West Orange Cares to send 100 care packages
Dozens of people gathered Saturday morning at the West Orange Community House on Main Street to pack about 100 holiday boxes for U.S. troops stationed abroad.
"The cutoff date for the holidays is Nov. 13 to ensure delivery, so we're going to pack today and all next week, I'll be in the post office sending boxes," said Micky Wagner, of West Orange, who created West Orange Cares, the township's nonprofit organization that leads community efforts in sending U.S. troops care packages overseas.
Wagner created West Orange Cares about one year ago after her son deployed in 2009.
"I got to thinking about not only care packages to (my son) but to what other troops were getting," she said. "It started off as a small idea and kind of grew from there with my daughters who reached out to other veteran organizations."
Charlotte Wescott, of West Orange, volunteered Saturday by knitting slippers and sorting acrylic hats.
"The conditions that (the troops) are in and if I can make someone a little warmer or a littler cooler, that's the least I can do," she said.
Justin Talley, a captain with the U.S. Army JAG Corps at Fort Drum, N.Y., spent the morning with his wife, Jennifer, packing boxes with candy, toiletries and supplies donated by area residents.
"This is actually really cool because a bunch of my buddies just got over there and, unfortunately, when Pakistan was no longer protecting the border, a lot of their stuff got blown up and stolen," he said. "So, I can imagine that some of this is going to get to some of my buddies."
Jennifer Talley, who lives in Cranford, said she brought Justin to the event after hearing about it through work.
"It's absolutely wonderful," she said. "We know a lot of people overseas right now, so anything we can do to help is great."
Allegra Lagani, of West Orange, said she gave up her Saturday morning to pack boxes because she wanted to help the community.
"They're not with their families and it's got to be hard being away from their friends and family, so it's good to send a little bit of home back to them," she said.
Wagner said she will ship close to 100 boxes this week at an average weight of roughly 25 pounds a box. She also will ship an additional dozen boxes filled with about 12 Christmas trees in each.
The cost of shipping is covered primarily through public and private donations. The Veterans of Foreign Wars NJ Post 376 in West Orange presented Wagner with $500 and the Sanford Kahn Chapter of the Jewish War Veterans gave $300.
"The troops absolutely love it," Wagner said.