Comfort packages to 360 men and women serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces will be sent through United For The Troops, thanks to a campaign supported by the Putnam County Government employees. The initiative, known as Stockings for Soldiers, was the brainchild of County Executive MaryEllen Odell.
“During the season of giving, it was important to remember that our greatest gift is that of freedom,” said Odell. “I launched the Stockings for Soldiers program, a joint effort with United for the Troops, to supply comfort packages to those serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
United For The Troops is a 501-c-3 that sends care packages to troops serving overseas. It was started by Mahopac residents Jim and Pat Rathschmidt. The couple along with their friends and neighbors launched the organization in 2007 when Rathschmidt’s son, Luke, was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army in Iraq.
Following numerous conversations with service men and women, the group found out that while the military provides soldiers with the essentials for day- to-day life, many of them miss the extra amenities that they enjoy while at home. The organization’s purpose is to make the soldiers’ lives a little better while serving overseas by sending items such as cookies, DVDs, CDs, snacks and t-shirts.
“While all of our comfort packages are made up of donated items, it costs us about $15 to ship a care package overseas,” said Jim Rathschmidt. “Through the great efforts of MaryEllen Odell, the county employees and other Putnam residents, we will be able to pay the shipping for 360 gift boxes being sent to our men and women serving our country overseas. Thanks to the generous support we received, our mission to ‘Bring A Little Comfort To Our Troops’ will continue on.”
While many of the county employees contributed toward the giving campaign, one person in particular went the extra mile. Putnam County Sheriff Deputy Corinne Pitt, who is a school resource officer at Putnam Valley High School, collected donations totaling $825 from the school staff to support the Stockings for Soldiers initiative.
“It was such a pleasant surprise to have Deputy Pitt show up at my office to present us the money she had collected from the generous men and women at Putnam Valley High School,” said Odell.
In addition to the donations received from the county employees, the campaign received $465 from the N.Y.C Firefighters Hudson Valley East.
United For The Troops has sent over 10,000 comfort packages to the troops since its inception.
Photo Caption: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell presented Jim and Pat Rathschmidt, the founders of United For The Troops, with the donations collected from the county’s Stocking for Soldiers campaign.