Community invited to support troops during letter-stuffing party

ST. MARYS - Community members and organizations are invited to lend their support to our military personnel by volunteering at the upcoming Letters From Home (LFH) letter-stuffing party taking place on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Sacred Heart Parish Center.The November event is part of LFH's fall mailing entitled "Thank You From America." Sign-up for the event begins at 12:30 p.m., with package preparation starting at 1 p.m. "The soldiers love receiving children's artwork," said Letters From Home founder Christine Jovenitti.The list of military personnel receiving packages as part of the November mailing stands at 2,420. Jovenitti said this is low, as the county is typically near the 5,000 mark. She attributes this to troops being sent home or being re-assigned. LFH is currently conducting their Pocket Change for Postage campaign until Nov. 28 in an effort to raise money to send the packages. Donations containers may be found in stores, restaurants and banks in St. Marys, Johnsonburg, Ridgway, Kersey and the Byrnedale/Weedville area. Among the items being collected for the mailing are toothpaste and toothbrushes and tree ornaments. These are in addition to the typical items collected, including food items such as granola bars, beef jerky, nuts, candy, snacks, gum, tuna packets and chocolate, which is allowed for this campaign; individual drink, cocoa and/or coffee packets; international phone cards, puzzle toys, small Nerf balls, yo-yos, mini footballs, tennis balls and playing cards. "Socks are another big item. They liked them so much last time, we decided to collect them again," Jovenitti said. Area dentists contributed packages of toothbrushes and toothpaste, while the Seneca Allegany Casino Hotel in Salamanca, N.Y., donated several cases of playing cards. HUB International, a large private insurance brokerage firm, headquartered in New York City conducted a donation drive, collecting five truckloads of items. Three additional carloads of donations will also soon arrive from the New York City area.At the event, a raffle will be held to raise funds for the organization.