Donations From Southern Tier's 'Support Our Troops' Campaign Arrive At 42nd Division Headquarters

George Winner

February 14, 2005

Troy, N.Y.-- A Silk Road Transport tractor-trailer arrived safely this morning at the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division headquarters and delivered 7,500 pounds of Southern Tier care package donations that will soon be on their way to New York State servicemen and women serving in Iraq.

"People from all walks of life -- parents and their children, seniors, business people, veterans, you name it -- have responded in an amazing way. It’s just been an incredible, generous effort. We hope that it brings the troops a touch of home," said State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira), who was at the Glenmore Road Armory to welcome the donations from his constituents and turn them over to the Family Readiness Groups of the 42nd Infantry Division and the 642nd MI Battalion. From Troy, members of the Family Readiness Groups will organize the donations into care packages that will be sent to the troops.

Representatives of the Family Readiness Groups said that today’s delivery from the Southern Tier was the single-largest donation they’ve received.

State Assemblyman Jim Bacalles (R-C, Corning) also attended today’s event. So did State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-C, Brunswick), whose legislative district includes Troy, and approximately 30 members of the Family Readiness Groups.

"I’m proud to be here today. Our people have really responded to the ‘Support Our Troops’ campaign. It’s a real tribute to the sacrifices our troops make to protect our way of life," Bacalles said.

Since late December, when Winner and Bacalles, together with Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport), joined Steuben County veterans to announce the beginning of a campaign that’s become known as "Support Our Troops," hundreds of Southern Tier residents have responded with thousands of donations ranging from batteries to snack foods and writing tablets.

Silk Road Transport founder and chief executive officer Jane Karlsten volunteered her company’s services at the beginning of the "Support Our Troops" campaign to collect donations from Steuben County’s 15 American Legion Posts and three VFWs -- which have served as regional collection centers -- and periodically deliver them to Troy. Donations have been collected from many area American Legions and VFWs, including those in Arkport, Bath, Corning, Hornell and Wayland. A recent day long, live "Support Our Troops" radio broadcast from Global Package Services in Hornell, sponsored by Hornell radio station WKPQ, attracted hundreds of contributors.

Karlsten and her husband, Tom, of Arkport, were in Troy today. The tractor-trailer was driven by Silk Road employee Dave Ellsworth of North Cohocton.

Steuben County’s "Support Our Troops" effort will be ongoing. Silk Road Transport has tentatively scheduled another delivery of donations to Troy later this spring.Anyone interested in making a donation can click here for a listing of Suggested Care Package donations.

Terri Leewe and Lee Heffner, Family Support Coordinators for the 642nd MI Battalion and 42nd Infantry Division respectively, stressed that care packages boost the spirits of servicemen and women.

"We send our heartfelt thanks to the residents of the Southern Tier and Western New York for this effort to support our soldiers serving away from home. These care packages do make a difference and are very, very appreciated," said Mrs. Leewe.

Mrs. Heffner added, "We can’t say enough about the support from the home front. Not only does the receiving of these care packages serve as a morale booster for the soldiers, but it also gives the families and friends a purpose and an opportunity to meet and support one another."