MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, a few friends, and the community-based organization United for the Troops made a point Thursday night of remembering servicemen and women who are stationed overseas for the holidays.
Odell hosted a holiday party at Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac, with attendees donating money to United for the Troops. The organization, run by Jim Rathschmidt, puts care boxes together - including items 'they miss the most' - and sends them to troops in various locations.
"We started this 10 years ago, and sent 200 boxes, and in the past 10 years we've sent 15,800 boxes, just with our community," Rathschmidt told Daily Voice.
"Everything in the box is donated," he added. "It costs us $15 dollars a box to ship them over there - that's why we have fund raisers like this."
And the boxes are much-appreciated when they reach their destination.
"When those boxes are delivered over there... they just come to tears," Rathschmidt said. "Some of these guys and girls have been there two or three times, have no families... They get a box from us, and they have five or six letters from kids (from area school children), from seniors, and then underneath is all the goodies they have - things they asked for. We get letters back, and we have thousands of them, about how important it is to them."
Odell was thrilled to host a party for such a great cause.
"As Americans we think about our servicemen and women overseas - particularly at the holidays," Odell said. "For those of us who have family who are veterans, or who are in the military, we know how much we appreciate their service. This is a way to honor our veterans, and to pay it forward.
"Jim Rathsmith and his wife started the organization (United for the Troops), and they get inundated with thank you letters and photos of the men and women when they get the boxes," Odell added. "It's just about bringing a little bit of home to them over there, letting them know we're thinking about them, and that we appreciate them. They're always in our hearts and prayers."
For more info about United for the Troops: www.unitedforthetroops.com.
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