Donations From Southern Tier's 'Support Our Troops' Campaign Being Delivered To 42nd Infantry Division On Monday

George Winner

February 11, 2005

Elmira, N.Y.-- Since late last December, when the Southern Tier’s state and federal lawmakers joined Steuben County veteransto announce the beginning of a campaign that’s become known as "Support Our Troops," hundreds of the region’s residents have responded with thousands of donations ranging from batteries to snack foods and writing tablets.

"It’s just been an incredible effort and a real show of the American spirit in our region," said State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira).

On Monday, February 14th, a tractor-trailer carrying 7,500 pounds of donations will arrive from Hornell at the headquarters of the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard in Troy, New York. From Troy, members of the Family Readiness Groups of the 42nd Infantry Division and the 642nd MI Battalion will organize the donations into care packages that will be sent to New York State servicemen and women serving in Iraq.

The donations are being delivered by a localspecialized hauling company, Silk Road Transport, Inc. of Arkport. Silk Road Transport CEO and founder 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. Last week a day long, live "Support Our Troops" radio broadcast from Global Package Services in Hornell, sponsored by Hornell radio station WKPQ, drew over a hundred contributors.

Winner and State Assemblyman Jim Bacalles (R-C, Corning), who together with Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport) have helped organize and promote the "Support Our Troops" effort, will be on hand Monday at the Glenmore Road Armory in Troy to welcome the donations from their constituents. Joining Winner and Bacalles will be State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-C, Brunswick), representatives of the Family Readiness Groups of the 42nd Infantry Division and the 642nd MI Battalion, and a contingent of 42nd Infantry retirees.

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.

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."