Legion groups unite to help troops

Shawn Hardy
Greencastle American Legions Sons of the American Legion President Danny Smith and auxiliary member Mimi Barbuzanes were at the front of an assembly line getting boxes ready to fill with treats and hygiene products to be sent to troops in Afghanistan.

Members of the Greencastle American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion teamed up Monday evening to show their support for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

They assembled 100 cardboard boxes and filled them with personal care items and snacks to be sent to the Pat Tillman Memorial Center by Hearts 4 Heroes of Martinsburg, West Virginia

The two Legion groups each provided half the money to purchase cases of everything from shampoo and toothpaste to Rice Krispies treats and peaches to put in the boxes, which also include cards made by local preschoolers and notes of encouragement written by auxiliary member Jamie Lytle and her family.

"We took money out of our funds and went shopping Saturday," explained Lei Ann Reihart, auxiliary president.

"We are here to support veterans and their families," said Reihart, who is among those with a personal connection to the troops. Her grandson, Terrence Dixon, is stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and is getting ready to be deployed to an undisclosed location.

"It feels good to give back to those that sacrifice so much," said Lytle, who proposed the project after a Hearts 4 Heroes representative visited her home seeking a donation and then her family volunteered at the center in Martinsburg.

"My grandfather Charles Stine served in the Army, my husband Tom served in the Air Force, my stepdaughter and her husband Trista and Michael Cowles are currently serving in the Air Force and my niece Skylar Wagaman leaves this month for basic training."

Each box also includes a letter from the auxiliary and SAL that says, "Thank you for your service to our great country. Your bravery, loyalty and courage is a dedication like no other.

"It is a privilege and an honor to send care and love through these packages to the men and women that deserve so much. Our hope is that it brings a little bit of home to you and that it contains something that is beneficial to your needs."