Have dinner, donate to the troops

Maybe it will be the char-pit barbecued chicken or the ribs or the pulled pork sandwiches that make you stop by PJ's BAR-B-Q in Saratoga Springs on Friday night. Maybe you'll stop in to PJ's to see Elvis perform at 7 p.m. Regardless of what brings you out to PJ's on Friday, Aug. 18, Carol Hotaling, The Yellow Ribbon Lady, is asking customers to bring along with them a donation for the troops. Hotaling will be on site from 6:30 p.m. 9 p.m. collecting both food items and monetary donations to support Operation Adopt-A-Soldier.

We should always keep in mind our troops and their families," said Hotaling. "They're still going over there."

Hotaling is seen regularly around the region seeking donations from individuals and businesses to provide needed items to the troops stationed overseas. She said items needed now include: beef jerky, Slim Jims, boxed fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers, food bars, popcorn, peanut butter and jelly, and tuna pouches. Non-food items such as phone cards, eye drops and baby wipes are also suggested. While donations of items are absolutely necessary, Hotaling noted that Operation Adopt-A-Soldier spends a tremendous amount of money each month on postage to send out boxes of items to the soldiers on their list.

"Postage is running about $3,000 a month," said Hotaling. She will be selling magnets, T-shirts, pins and bracelets in an effort to raise money, but will also accept financial donations.

This "Support Our Troops" fundraiser began when Hotaling approached PJ's BAR-B-Q owner, PJ Davis, about donating some of his PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry drinks. The discussion ended with Davis offering the restaurant on Route 9 as a location to host a fundraiser.

"We've always been involved with the community," said Davis, who added, "I didn't have to think twice about it."

For years, the family operation has offered free meal vouchers to the nurses of Saratoga Springs Hospital, Saratoga Springs School District teachers, administrators and counselors as well as the government officials of the city and the city police, firemen, and EMTs. That dedication to their local community has resulted in the restaurant being recognized by the National Restaurant Association.

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