East Bronx American Legion posts are making an effort to bring comfort to U.S. troops serving overseas in Afghanistan.
The Theodore Korony American Legion Post #253’s Auxiliary is collecting white cotton socks to supplement the heavy military issued woolen socks that troops often use while serving in the desert of Afghanistan.
The legion is seeking the socks, which are being collected as part of care packages that local veteran leaders routinely send overseas, along with white cotton undershirts and washcloths, said drive organizer Judy Lanci.
“The soldiers who are out there on the front lines are really in need of nice, white cotton socks instead of their heavy wool socks,” she said.
Bins have been placed at the Throggs Neck Memorial American Legion Post #1456 and at the Leonard Hawkins American Legion Post #156, and the general public is also invited to drop off these items at St. Benedict’s Church’s rectory at 2969 Otis Avenue in packaging labeled ‘For the Troops – Cathy Praino’, said Lanci.
Lanci said she set a goal of 1,000 pairs of socks in order to get at least one pair to every member of one battalion.
So far, Lanci said, she was able to purchase 300 pairs after the legionaries donated winnings from a 50/50 raffle to the drive.
Additionally, the local American Legion family will host a ‘Sock Hop’ at the Throggs Neck Memorial American Legion Post #1456 that will be a fundraiser and collection for the project in the near future, said Paul Grasso of the post.
As part of the Sock Hop both socks and t-shirts for troops serving in Afghanistan will be collected, and the event will be open to American Legion members, he said. He added it is being sponsored by the post’s ladies auxiliary.
“This is not a financial thing, but more about support (for our troops),” said Lanci. “We care, we’re here and we aren’t forgetting about you.”
The first items collected will likely be sent following the Theodore Korony Post’s annual barbecue and June meeting on Sunday, June 24, when the post will also present four scholarships to local youth and swearing-in of a slate of officers.
Additional socks may be sent in the summer after the Sock Hop and further collecting, said Lanci.
Praino, who is affectionately called ‘Aunt Cathy’ by our troops overseas, is an activist who has sent 6,600 packages to fighting men and women serving overseas since 2004 who is taking part in the effort.
Praino said she began sending packages after her late nephew U.S. Army Sergeant Christian Engeldrum, who also served his community as a firefighter in Co-op City, died in combat in Iraq.
With temperatures routinely reaching 120 to 140 degrees during the day in the Afghan desert, and dipping to around 50 at night, soldiers wearing heavy boots can get a great deal of comfort from the donated clothing, said Praino.
“We are all walking around doing what we want because they are over there protecting all of us,” said Praino of the sacrifices of U.S. Armed Forces members.