“Sometimes, I sneak in a few prayer cards or maybe a rosary or two,” Mirra confided in a quiet tone. “Just in case they need them.”
Mirra has mailed 8-10 boxes per month overseas to service men and women. At some points during the past decade, the numbers were even larger because troops were sent overseas In large numbers. Thankfully, in the past few years, the numbers have been on the downslide, meaning more troops are now state-side. As the chairperson of the “Care Packages For Our Troops” drive at Post #118, Mirra, who is a past department commander, is responsible, not only for packing and shipping the boxes, but also for soliciting items to fill them.
With help from Post Commander Charles Dougherty of Springfield and fellow AMVETS Gerry Egan of Darby Township, Jeffrey Elliot of Ridley Park and others, Mirra spreads the word through the community, seeking donations of items to send. Local residents can drop off items at the AMVETS Post between 4-8 p.m. daily, or leave them on the porch of Mirra’s home. The task has become such a big part of Mirra’s life, that he stores and packs at home most of the time for convenience and because the post’s storage space is not heated or air-conditioned.
Items most needed are toiletries, cookies, candy, eye drops, thank you cards, socks, gel boot inserts, hand sanitizers, envelopes, pens, playing cards, disposable cameras, bum, powdered drinks, phone cards, snacks, CDs, electronic games, DVDs, golf balls, books, writing paper, boxer underwear, travel-size sewing kits, magazines and any items that are small and useful. Mirra has a printed list of suggestions which he gives to scout troops, school groups, community organizations and others who may want to collect items as a service project.
“Many of our military don’t mind even receiving children’s items, like toys, stickers, coloring books or puzzles,” explained Egan. “Many are parents and they can send those small items back to the children they left behind back home. They like sending a little gift to show their children they are always in their hearts and thoughts.”
“I think the soldiers’ favorite items are the candy and cookies,” Mirra interjected. “They like getting the treats from home because they are unavailable to them there.”
In addition to donations of useful items, the post is always appreciative of monetary donations to help with shipping costs. At current rates, the charge is typically about $20 per box for shipment overseas. Right now, Mirra is only shipping to service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Previously, the post also sent packages to Kuwait and Korea, but the costs are too astronomical to continue shipping there. Once packages are mailed, it takes about a week to ten days for overseas arrival. If a recipient’s address has changed, the package will go to the USO or chaplain who will then distribute its contents among the troops on site.
“We aren’t very concerned who the package goes to,” explained Mirra. “We just want to be sure it gets in the hands of a soldier serving overseas.”
According to Mirra and his fellow Post members, many in the community have been generous in donating to the drive. Bill Goldberg of East Coast Vending Co. donated boxes of CDs to the cause. So far, AMVETS Post #118 has mailed over 3,000 CDs to the troops. The National Guard sent Post #118 about 100 boxes of items to pack into their care packages. Other generous donors have been Wawa (coffee, tea), OLPH Senior Center, Dick Gallagher of Drexel Hill, Betty Costello of Broomall, Joe’s Video Store in Holmes, Pat Granahan of Ridley Park, Mrs. Greim of Morton and many other caring members of the community.
Original Source: Community’s help needed to support our troops