By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — With the holiday season fast approaching, the Western Clark County Business Coalition (WCCBC) has launched a fall campaign to make the holidays a little brighter for those men and women who preserve freedom in the United States — and the coalition is asking citizens and local businesses to lend their support to the cause.
Operation Thank Our Troops is embracing the mission of collecting items to fill care packages that will be sent to U.S. troops serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan. According to Brenda Buck, WCCBC member and board member, care packages are a welcomed treat and lift the morale of service members who are far away from home during the holidays.
“A few years ago, my two brothers-in-law were both stationed in Iraq,” Buck said. “We saw first-hand how much they appreciated the care packages we sent to them.”
A wide variety of food items is being sought, including beef jerky, peanut butter, nuts, protein bars, pudding cups, salsa, chewing gum, instant coffee, Slim Jims, jelly, sunflower seeds, microwave popcorn, snack cups, cheese spread, Crystal Light drink mixes, hot chocolate, ramen noodles, trail mates, dried or canned fruit, candy bars, instant oatmeal, Chex Mix, cereal bars, crackers and hard candy.
The WCCBC is also collecting toiletries for the troops, such as sunscreen, liquid soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, dental floss, deodorant, shaving cream/gel, aftershave, disposable razors, Q-tips, cotton balls, facial tissues, nail clippers and files, chapstick, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial and baby wipes, body wash, foot soaks, body lotion, body powder and feminine products.
Buck said the troops also appreciate practical items, such as bath towels, blankets, twin-size sheets, mattress toppers, cooling bandanas, hand and foot warmers, all sizes of batteries and pre-paid phone cards.
Hand-held electronic games, CDs, DVDs, magazines, books, dart boards, word puzzle books, board games, color pens, coloring books, soccer balls, Frisbees and nerf balls are among the assortment of items being collected for the troops to enjoy during their down times.
The WCCBC is accepting a few over-the-counter medications as well, including Tylenol, Advil, cough drops, antacids, sinus medication, nasal spray and eye drops.
The WCCBC currently has seven official drop-off locations where donated items will be collected through Dec. 2. Residents and local businesses residing in the Village of Enon and Mad River Township can drop off their donations at the Enon Government Center, 363 E. Main St. in the village; and Xtreme Graphics, 6845 Dayton Rd. in the township.
Other drop-off sites include Living Well Spine Center, 1145 Channingway Dr. in Fairborn; Daymont-Souders Insurance Agency, 7227 Taylorsville Rd. in Huber Heights; Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, 301 N. Main St. in New Carlisle; Meadow View Growers, 755 N. Dayton-Lakeview Rd. in New Carlisle; and PuroClean, 2029 Edgefield St. in Dayton.
WCCBC is also accepting monetary donations to help cover shipping costs. Currently, the postal charge to ship one small care package is $17. All monetary donations can be mailed to WCCBC, P.O. Box 336, Enon, OH 45323, ATTN: Kristy.
According to Buck, the inspiration to launch Operation Thank Our Troops first came about in August following a conversation she had with Enon Village Administrative Assistant Kristy Thome, who is also a WCCBC member and board member. At that time, Thome revealed that her son Brandon and his army unit were being deployed overseas. U.S. Army Pfc. Brandon Thome, a lifelong village resident and 2014 Greenon High School graduate, is a member of the U.S. Army HHC 2-1 GSAB Task Force Fighting Eagles and is stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
“I knew then that the WCCBC could help make Brandon and his unit’s time deployed seem not as long by providing them with the comforts from home and letting them know that they are not forgotten,” Buck said. “We are so proud of our troops for their service and the sacrifices they are making. If we can make even one of their days a little brighter, then we have succeeded in what the Western Clark County Business Coalition is all about.”
During a recent interview, Thome noted that this year would mark the first time her son would spend Christmas away from his family. However, Brandon and his fellow troops are managing to muster up some holiday cheer despite their deployment.
“They are planning to decorate their living quarters and open the care packages on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning to have a genuine feel for Christmas,” said Thome. “Brandon has asked for a Buckeye flag and pictures from home to help make his surroundings seem more like home.”
If anyone wishes to donate Christmas decorations, the WCCBC will properly mark those boxes so the troops will open them beforehand. Thome suggested that Santa hats, Christmas stockings, non-breakable Christmas ornaments and a Christmas tree that could be taped to the wall would bring a bit of Christmas joy to the troops.
Western Clark County Business Coalition is a nonprofit organization that fosters and promotes economic development in Western Clark County and conducts activities that benefit its business members and their surrounding communities.
“Kristy is a huge advocate and supporter of the WCCBC. Sending these care packages to Brandon and his unit is just another way the WCCBC is able to support our community members and just one more way we can show our appreciation to our troops,” said Buck.
For more information about Operation Thank Our Troops, contact Brenda Buck at 937-231-9915 or Kristy Thome at 937-864-7870.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.