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Operation Thank Our Troops launches Saturday

Money and donations are needed to fill 2,000 care boxes to send to overseas troops in time for Chris

Posted: November 27, 2008 5:39 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2008 4:30 a.m.

Volunteers and donations are welcome from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to help package boxes for Operation Thank our Troops in Newhall.

Suzon Gerstel, a mother of a Marine and president of Prayer Angels for the Military, said many residents of the Santa Clarita Valley are unaware that the SCV has its own community care packaging location for the troops.

"It's like Operation Gratitude, but smaller," Gerstel said. "Operation Thank Our Troops is done at the Newhall Community Center gym."

Gerstel said adults, children and other groups, like Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons and Pen Pals for Soldiers have pitched in to help package and ship care boxes for members of the military overseas.

"We have a lot of kids and community members helping out," she said. "Two Catholic schools in the San Fernando Valley with 1,500 kids participate every year with card- making and collecting donations."

Among the groups that have recently participated in Operation Thank Our Troops is the Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley chapter of the Jack and Jill Society of America and the Young Marines.

"The kids hand-made special cards to go in the holiday care packages for Operation Thank Our Troops," Gerstel said. "They also had a collection drive for items to go in the boxes and saved their Halloween candy to share with the troops, too."

Gerstel said she organized the annual Operation Thank Our Troops so community members could "roll up their sleeves and help fill the boxes that are sent to troops on their behalf."

"Our local groups, including Blue Star Mothers Chapter 91, support between 50 to 100 troops each so everyone's help is always needed to get out a minimum of 2,000 boxes for Christmas."

"Operation Thank Our Troops" - a SCV holiday care packaging event for troops overseas will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Newhall Community Center Gym, 22421 Market St., Newhall (behind the Metrolink Station).

"Packages include a heartfelt message from everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley," she said. "I organized this so that the community can participate right here. We usually do this over several weekends but donations are really down this year so we have only one huge event planned and then additional days if more funds come through."

Join Prayer Angels for the Military and Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons, Chapter 82 to fill holiday care packages for troops on the frontlines. Bring items for the troops or drop them off at any local Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions or Ralphs grocery stores.

"We need snacks, granola bars, beef jerky, white and black cotton sport socks, three-blade razors, AT&T International phone cards, AAA/AA batteries, cards and letters of support and treats and toys for military dogs," Gerstel said. "Although we mail all year, a minimum of 2,000 boxes are sent out to our troops in harm's way to reach them by Christmas."

Gerstel said mailing costs add up, too.

"Money is also badly needed this year for the cost of shipping 2,000 boxes at $10.95 each," she said.

Prayer Angels for the Military is a group of Blue Star Moms and community members working together, said Gerstel. The group also works with the city of Santa Clarita on military related events.

"We also send special packages to our wounded warriors," she said.

For a detailed list of items needed by the troops visit or call Dale at (661) 799-8865 or (818) 606-9677. Large item pick-ups available.

Checks can be mailed to Prayer Angels, 21609 Oak Orchard Road, Newhall, 91321. Include a card or letter to a troop.

Prayer Angels for the Military is a 501(c)3 corporation and donations are tax-deductible.


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