Local veteran Phil Modesti says there are few feelings better for a soldier than that of getting a letter or a care package from home.
"When you see something that essentially says, 'Hey, we support you,' that means the world," said Modesti, a Marine Corps veteran of the first Gulf War who lives in Oxford.
That is why the is collecting items for soldiers who are currently serving in Afghanistan. The items collected will go directly to the brigades of Private First Class Justin Hilton and Private Nathanial Hilton. Those two men, who are from Beacon Falls, are the nephews of troop co-parent leader Sallie Barlow, who said grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of the soldiers live in Oxford.
Modesti, whose daughter is in Troop 60850, helped the girls kick off the collection drive recently during a troop meeting at Oxford Center School. He talked about his involvement in the Gulf War as a member of the Marine Corps' 8th Battalion out of Syracuse, N.Y., which patrolled mine fields and was the last group of tanks to leave Kuwait.
"It's important for soldiers to know that people from home are thinking about them," he said.
The girls, most of whom are 9 years old, are collecting numerous items (see list below) from now until Nov. 10. They will be sorted and split between the two brigades and will be shipped immediately in hopes of getting them to soldiers before Christmas. Donation boxes will be set up at Oxford public schools and the Oxford S.B. Church Memorial Town Hall. There will also be a box set up at the Girl Scout cookie booth on Election Day, Nov. 8, the polling place, Quaker Farms School.
The troop is working on its "Agent of Change" patch; the journey is called "It's Your World - Change It" and it focuses on heroines, power, leadership and community.
"We believe it is important for the girls to know that they should support our troops," Sallie Barlow said.
The troop is led by Barlow and Vanessa Ort as troop parents. The girls in the troop are as follows:
Addison Barlow, Anna Ort, Shannon Bare, Hailey Buinauskas, Madison Cayer, Lorena Forero, Noah Chiapetta, Molly Jacob (not in photo), Samantha Kaufman, Emma Lobraico, Lauren Mattutini, Alyssa Modesti, Hannah O'Brien, Katelyn Petrie, Elisabeth Riddle, Amanda Sciongay, Stephanie McNamara and Brianna Hughes.
Items they are collecting include the following:
- black socks
- knit hats
- small cereal boxes
- condiments and spices
- instant drink mixes
- baby wipes
- hard candy
- dental floss
- eye drops
- lip balm
- nasal spray
- beef jerky
- small packs of cookies
- playing cards