GANSEVOORT — A group of volunteers resumed work sending care packages to soldiers after COVID-19 had closed their organization, Operation Adopt a Soldier, and dried up donations.
Normally, around 30 volunteers would gather at Operation Adopt a Soldier in Gansevoort to pack donated toothbrushes, snacks, DVD players and dozens of other items into boxes to be shipped to men and women serving in the military around the world.
But gatherings were halted in March, and donated goodies weren’t coming in as quickly. Founder and chairman Cliff Seguin said they’re starting to pack “comfort kits” again, with some changes.
“We sent out a hundred and some this morning, only because we had to go buy supplies to send overseas to the troops,” said Seguin.
Operation Adopt a Soldier’s headquarters are accepting donations now between 10 a.m. and noon Thursdays and Saturdays. Seguin said they’ll have staff come out to pick up donations from cars.
“We won’t have regular packups because when we do we usually have 20 or 30 people,” said Seguin. “They’ve been emailing me and asking me when we’re going to be up and running because they want to help out again.”
For now, OAAS, like many other non-profits and businesses, is waiting on word from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on when the Capital Region can fully reopen.
Seguin started the organization almost 20 years ago when his son Steve toured in Iraq in 2003. Sending their son some needed items eventually turned into an operation with over 600 names and addresses of soldiers to send packages to.
“We started it with seven soldiers, and we have literally sent hundreds of thousands of packages overseas since then,” said Seguin.
Seguin said the items, which can be anything from fly traps to Hostess cupcakes, bring encouragement to soldiers abroad, especially during the coronavirus.
“What we have learned is every time one of the soldiers gets a package from home or from Operation Adopt a Soldier, it’s like Christmas,” said Seguin. “They really do appreciate getting something from home; it lets them know that we’re still thinking of them and we’re backing them up.”
Donors can find a list of items needed for Operation Adopt a Soldier on its website, as well as a form to submit names and addresses of service people to put on its list.