Sending a 'touch of home' to soldiers

VFW Post 1895 puts together care packages for platoon overseas

Recently the 618th Engineer Support Company of the United States Army lost 10 men during a six-month period in Iraq. Now, the Hilderbrand-Davis VFW Post 1895 is trying to lift the spirits of those men and women who are far from home but still in thoughts of many.

This particular company lost 10 men in six months, and their morale was pretty diminished, said Annie Wilson, VFW member. "Since one of the goals of VFW is to support veterans, it only seemed like a logical conclusion that we should be doing something to try and lift their morale."

Annie Wilson originally sent a package to Alex Kirby, a member of the 618th, but talks with his mother, who was a friend of a fellow VFW member, led to Post 1895 "adopting" the company, which includes 100 men and woman.

Tracey Fredericks later joined Post 1895 and took over organizing the initiative. Fredericks had previous experience with sending care packages through her personal efforts.

"It all started with a simple project I did by myself," said Fredericks. "I got such a good feeling from what I was doing that I wanted to do more. It is all about giving back to the men and women who have done so much for us."

On Fredericks' husband's side there are family members serving in the military, and her grandfather from Albany also served in WWII. She said he wanted to do something to honor her grandfather, and sending care packages to troops seemed to be a good way to pay tribute.

"You honor the dead by serving the living," said Fredericks. "It becomes more personal when you know someone that is there."

She recycled bottles and cans to raise money to send care packages to soldiers. Last summer she also got together with 65 students from Hamilton Elementary School, where two of Fredericks' nephews went to school, and worked with the children to make cards and letters to send off in a care package to the troops for Christmas.

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