Sending Christmas to Iraq

Although the holidays may now seem a distant memory, we would like to share with the Town of Shirley and our neighbors information on a Support Our Troops project The American Legion and The Shirley Middle School just completed.

Just last week we received confirmation from the Army that our mission was accomplished. By the way, the last of the packages arrived Christmas Day.

In early November, the American Legion family of Post No. 183 put in motion a plan to send a touch of home to some of our troops stationed overseas. We decided to send cookies and prepaid phone cards and, if at all possible, maybe include some Christmas cards. We contacted Shirley Middle School Principal Dan Schauben-Fuerst, who immediately gave his support.

We were able to find a unit from Massachusetts, the 3-126 Aviation Battalion, that is supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our goal was to send 180 dozen cookies and hopefully 180 Christmas cards, one for each member of the 3-126th.

The cookies: It takes many hours to shop, prepare for and bake180 dozen cookies. Also think how hard it is to shop and find 180 cookie tins, but the auxiliary came through, including the packing. The cookies were ready

to ship.

The phone cards: Since September the post ran several fundraisers including donations from Friday night card players which raised enough money to purchase over 3,700 minutes of prepaid phone cards. If you play cards on Friday night at the Legion and read this, you should now know how much brighter you made the holidays for the 3-126th.

The Christmas cards: The cookies and phone cards were important to the plan, but maybe the most effective was the Christmas cards. The students of Shirley Middle School hand made cards which were personally delivered by principal Schauben-Fuerst.

We at the post read several as we were packing them with the cookie tins. The cards were so impressive. I wish I had made photocopies to share with the public but, trust me, they hit home. Imagine reading a card from a student whose father is stationed in Iraq, and him or her asking the recipient of the card to please keep their father safe. Very touching.

Post 183 thanks the Shirley Middle School students and Schauben-Fuerst for, as the major said, it filled the hearts of the soldiers.

The letter from Maj. Stephen J. Bethoney, reads, “On behalf of the men and women of the 3/126 Aviation Battalion, I would like to thank you and the American Legion for the cookies, the Christmas cards and the phone cards. Your assistance helps us feel more at home in a very big way.

“The Battalion is doing very well at this point. The soldier morale remains high through the holidays. It warms our hearts whenever agencies like the American Legion and people like you and Elizabeth Grant work to improve the quality of life for us during these difficult times.

“Please send our sincerest thanks to the principal of the Shirley Middle School, Dan Schauben-Fuerst, and all the students. We appreciate all the hard work that the children did.”