A non-profit that sends care packages to troops serving overseas will be shipping comfort packages to 500 men and women from residents of Putnam County. Defend the Holidays, was the initiative of County Executive MaryEllen Odell, in partnership with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. She says during the season of giving it was important to remember the gift of freedom.
United For The Troops was started by Mahopac residents Jim and Pat Rathschmidt in 2007 when their son was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army in Iraq. Odell says the group found that while the military provides soldiers with the essentials for day- to-day life, many of them miss the extra amenities that they enjoy while at home. The organization’s purpose is to make the soldiers’ lives a little better while serving overseas by sending items such as cookies, DVDs, CDs, snacks and t-shirts.
The comfort packages are made up of donated items, but it costs about $15 to ship a care package overseas. Through the Defend the Holidays Program, the organization is able to pay the shipping for 500 gift boxes.
Many county employees contributed toward the giving campaign, but Putnam County Sheriff Deputy Corinne Pitt collected donations totaling $350 for the Defend the Holidays initiative. Pitt is a school resource officer at Putnam Valley High School and collected from the school staff to support the program. The campaign alo received $610 from the N.Y.C Firefighters Hudson Valley East and $500 from the Putnam County PBA.
United For The Troops has sent over 16,000 comfort packages to the troops since its inception.