Air Force veteran Joe Chicoski of Oxford was taken aback when he heard 40 or 50 percent of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan don’t receive care packages from home.
He also recently heard from his two grandsons – Justin and Nathan Hilton of Beacon Falls, who are stationed in Kandahar Provice, Afghanistan – about an armored vehicle in their unit that was destroyed by enemy forces and how six of their buddies were injured in the blast.
Chicoski decided he needed to act. He asked his friends at on Route 67 in Oxford if they could for soldiers on a weekend at the store, and the hardware store’s owners – who do much for the community – said they would do better than that.
“They said, ‘Let’s just go as far as we can with this,’” Chicoski said, adding that the owners called local media and printed up flyers to get the word out. “The response has been overwhelming.”
Saturday marked the culmination of about a month’s worth of collections for soldiers. With local veterans and firefighters on hand to mark the occasion, Oxford Paint & Hardware held a final drive to collect goods. Boxes of snacks, toys, food, toiletries and other items were collected for soldiers. Local companies and organizations have donated – the donated $1,000 and the Schick Co. donated 1,000 cans of shaving cream. Hundreds of local residents have also donated to the cause.
“We figured we could scratch together a half a dozen boxes for Joe Chicoski’s grandsons,” said Oxford Paint & Hardware manager Lee Golebieski, who organized the event with Chicoski. “At last count, we had eight pallets of materials to send over, and the monetary donations have been wonderful – we will be able to send it all.”
Asked if he was surprised by the turnout, Golebieski said he wasn’t so much surprised as overjoyed because he knows how much people locally help their neighbors.
“This is a prime example of how ,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Though Saturday was the last day of the drive, donations will still be accepted, Chicoski said. Inquire about how to donate at Oxford Paint & Hardware.