Members and staff of the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania from Lehighton and Jim Thorpe gathered Wednesday to assemble care packages for members of the United States military.

The packages included personal care items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, shampoo, deodorant, socks and letters of appreciation.

It was just one of several times that members of the Arc will work this year to honor those who serve, including both veterans and current military servicemen and women. Members of the Arc from Palmerton and Panther Valley also gathered last week to assemble dozens of care packages. Materials were donated by Valley Youth House and employees of CTC Manufacturing.

Arc members also took part in last weekend's Veterans Day parade, and will host a military dance on Friday, Nov. 15 in Nesquehoning. The public is invited to attend, and active members of the military and veterans can attend for free.

"They're enjoying this so much," said Arc staff member Sheila Hartranft. "Giving back to the community, and giving back to our servicemen, is so important to them. Hopefully we can help out the troops, especially those who don't get much from home during the holidays."

The care packages were inspired by Arc member Mike Weaver, who noted that Arc does many things throughout the year that allow its members to come together. He is a supporter of the military and local ROTC programs, and asked the local Arc chapter to do something to support active military members.

"They do so much for our country. This is our way of saying thanks," said Weaver. "Hopefully we can do this again and keep it going. We just want to show them that we care."

Weaver also encouraged veterans and active military members, and all who support the military, to attend the group's military dance on Friday.

"We want everyone to come out and have a good time," he added.

The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania provides support, advocacy and socialization opportunities for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For more information about the Arc of NEPA, go to www.thearcnepa.org or call their main office in Scranton at (570) 346-4010.

For more information about the military dance or to make reservations, contact Hartranft at (570) 903-1101.