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Volunteers collecting groceries for veterans at Walgreens

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HEUVELTON — Several north country veterans advocates want to give soldiers a big welcome a home, and they are turning to St. Lawrence County residents to help them do it.

The Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service of Heuvelton Amvets Post 1997 Auxiliary is holding a three-day fundraiser to benefit enlisted service members and veterans.

The service will collect perishable and nonperishable groceries as part of “stuff the trailer” events at Walgreens in Ogdensburg, 723 Canton St., from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, at Walgreens in Potsdam, 173 Market St., from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday and at Walgreens in Massena, 303 Main St., from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday.

All merchandise and money raised will be donated to the VA Medical Center in Syracuse and the United Service Organization of Fort Drum.

The service is asking community members to come out dressed in 1950s and ’60s attire and enjoy listening and dancing to the music held at each event. Antique cars also are welcome to stop by.

“The VA Hospital in Syracuse has a high demand for coffee and creamer, all size T-shirts and shorts, and gift cards, as the veterans are often taken out on outings,” volunteer Susan J. Rupert said.

The USO and VA hospital can use a wide variety of items, Mrs. Rupert said.

“The USO at Fort Drum has Hot Dog Day every Wednesday, where they serve 170 to 200 people at lunchtime,” she said. “Before deployments, they host lunches for soldiers and their families, and they also do private family gatherings if a family is coming from out of town.”

USO Fort Drum Director Karen M. Clark said that although less than 1 percent of the nation serves in the Armed Forces, the other 99 percent, by supporting “stuff the trailer” or volunteering at the USO Fort Drum, can still be part of the team.

“Thanks to donations from events like ‘stuff the trailer,’ the USO Fort Drum is able to offer some home-away-from-home comforts to our troops and their families,” she said. “We are always in need of paper plates, napkins, plastic cutlery, hot and cold beverage cups, disposable razors, toothbrushes and tiny tubes of toothpaste. When everyone pitches in and gives a little, the impact on morale is huge.”

One of the biggest in-demand items is energy bars, Mrs. Rupert said.

“So many more soldiers are being deployed,” she said. “With the protein bars, they can take a small piece of it and last a long time and don’t have to eat for a long time. They are in big demand right now.”

Other items needed include:

Food: hot dogs, hot dog buns, tortilla chips, assorted chips, sweet and salty snacks, ketchup, mustard, relish, soda, ground coffee, packets of sugar and pump creamer.

Paper and miscellaneous products: Copy paper, plastic utensils, paper plates and bowls, 55-gallon garbage bags, 13-gallon garbage bags, dish-washing soap, laundry detergent, liquid hand washing soap, 10/12-ounce cold drink cups, plastic cups, 10/12-ounce hot drink cups, coffee stir sticks, Bunn large decanter coffee filters, disposable forks, spoons and knives and straws.

Office supplies: Avery 5160 labels, envelopes, ink cartridges, AA batteries, AAA batteries, pens, paperclips, scissors, Scotch tape, magnets, black permanent markers and Forever stamps,

Gift cards: Walmart, Sam’s Club, Staples, Amazon.com, GameStop and gas stations.

“The USO uses donations on a continuous basis, which is why we try to hold this event twice a year,” Mrs. Rupert said.

To make a donation, checks should be written to the VAVS-Heuvelton, Amvets Post 1997 Ladies Auxiliary.

For more information, call Mrs. Rupert at 854-5981.

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